Thursday, March 30, 2006

Twice in a Night

High pressure dominating the area and Daylight Savings rapidly approaching, the IFR Pilot decided to tackle some of the night solo takeoffs and landings at a controlled airport required for the commerical rating. Launching into the calm air, alone in the cockpit, 78S performed like a jet! Well, not quite, but she easily achieved 1500 fpm climb. Not bad for a forty-year old 172.

ATIS at CAK indicated runway 1 would be in operation, so tower calls for a right base entry.

But, not two minutes later, they shifted operations to runway 19. Hmmm, OK. Left base to 19.

The first landing wasn't too bad, just needed to watch out for the wake turbulence from a landing Falcon.

Tower called for right traffic for the second landing. This provided some wierd sensations, as we don't often fly right traffic patterns, especially at night. But, right traffic for runway 19 means that your downwind is right over the highway. This landing was better.

Then tower called for left traffic for the third landing. Geez, guys, can we make a decision here?

On downwind, tower advised that we'd be #3 behind a Citrus flight and an Archer. This means an extended downwind. After passing the Archer, the IFR Pilot turned base, then final. A long, slow final. Tower advised to expect the landing clearance on short final, and they weren't kidding. 78S was well into the MALSR approach lights when the clearance was delivered.

The nicest of the three landings ensued, and then it was back to the home base. It's always a challenge landing there at night. The runway is soooooooo short and narrow. The winds were favoring runway 3, which unfortunately doesn't have any kind of VASI or PAPI. Plus, the threshold isn't more than 20 feet from a road. It's always a nail-biter, but the IFR Pilot managed to make it onto terra firma without damaging the aircraft.

So, that takes care of 3 of the 10 required night solo takeoffs and landings and another .7 solo night. Only another 3.9 night hours and 7 more takeoffs and landings. (Updated commerical pilot flight experience requirements here.)

MS was waiting. Time to safety pilot for him, as he continued renewing his instrument currency. Back to CAK for the ILS 19 twice. We had some S-turns to intercept the localizer, and we weren't helped by the crummy vectors approach gave us. In fact, at one point, he corrected the vector by twenty degress.

MS's second ILS was excellent, and we blasted out of CAK for the GPS 28 into BJJ. We were 10 miles out and getting more strange vectors from approach when MS queried to make sure they had us down for the right approach. Doh! They had us on the VOR 28. Another quick vector back to final. Then, MS fired the IFR Pilot, who had handed him the VOR 28 approach plate instead of the GPS 28. Double doh! (Interestingly, the VOR 28 and GPS 28 are independent approaches, i.e., the GPS isn't overlaid over the VOR approach, though I'm not sure why that it.)

MS made a nice landing at BJJ, and we taxiied back for takeoff. The IFR Pilot needed a hold to finish renewing his instrument currency, so right after takeoff, we switched controls and the IFR Pilot flew a hold from the right seat. Not as hard as it sounds, except that the Foggles don't agree the the IFR Pilot's glasses. (Usually, contacts are the name of the game when it's simulated instrument flying time, but I chose the lazy path tonight....)

That task accomplished, control was ceded back to MS for landing at the home base. He made a nice landing on runway 3 at the home base, and we tucked 78S back into the hangar.

But, we'll bust her out again in about 36 hours for a Boys Weekend as we venture to Lexington, Nashville -- or both! Stay tuned for updates, so long as they don't tend to incriminate either of us....

1 comment:

Dave said...

Nice post. I liked the comment about the Foggles. Bifocals, Foggles, and a red LED flashlight really makes reading the small print (timing) a chore.