Posts Tagged ‘Night’
SIU Aviation student Austin Nance brought a camera with him on his first night cross-country to Spirit of St. Louis airport in St Louis, Missouri. He is a freshman in the Aviation Flight program. This just goes to show how fast students’ aviation skill set expands in just under a year of time!
One of the main reasons why I chose to come to Southern Illinois University for their Aviation Program was the freedom to control how fast or slow I go through each course. As long as there are resources and your instructor is willing to meet with you, you can fly as often as you would like. I am very lucky that my instructor is as eager as I am to get up in the air. This past weekend was spent almost exclusively in the air.
My weekend began on Thursday night with my first solo night lesson. I had an hour and a half of just landings. The landings were uneventful for the most part minus my pattern. A newer student must have been in front of me for he was flying his traffic pattern twice as large as it should have been. Friday morning was clear and cold; perfect weather to fly in. My instructor and I went up for a short flight together to work on maneuvers for the commercial pilot checkride. We worked on chandelles and eights on pylons. I was supposed to have a solo flight later that day but the clouds were too low for high altitude maneuvers. I made it an early night as Saturday was going to be a big day.
I arrived at the airport at 6:30 am to begin planning for my first solo cross-country at SIU. My flight plan would take me from Carbondale, to Henderson, Kentucky, to Fairfield, Illinois, and back to Carbondale. The weather was perfect for a cross-country; the winds gave me a great tail wind on the way to Henderson with no clouds in the sky and unrestricted visibility. The trip took just under two hours and went off without a hitch. I came back to Carbondale and grabbed a quick lunch before I went back up at 1:00 with my instructor. We went up in the (smaller than I remember) Cessna 152 so I could get checked out to solo in them. We went over to Pickneyville airport to do some landings in the 52. Although it had been two months since I’ve flown in those airplanes, they weren’t looking to bad. I forgot how much those little planes get bounced around. Compared to flying in the 172s, it felt like I was getting thrown around.
My Sunday was essentially a clone of Saturday. My day started with another cross-country flight. This time, I flew to Owensboro, Tennessee and Evansville, Indiana. This cross-country proved to be more interesting than the last one since Evansville was a class Charlie airport. This involved talking to their approach control and tower. I also had to get a clearance to depart in visual flight rules (usually, clearances are only required for flight under instrument flight rules). On the way back to Carbondale, I received flight following from Kansas City Center. About mid way through my flight, reports began to pour in of an ELT going off. Basically, an ELT (emergency location transmitter) is a box in small airplanes that emits a sharp tone on the emergency frequency (121.50 Mhz) when the box experiences a lot of load. The center controller asked each aircraft under its control to tune to the emergency frequency to see if they could hear the tone. By doing this, the controller was trying to find out which general area the signal was coming from. After my cross-country, I went on another solo flight to practice the maneuvers. I was having a hard time performing my chandelles for some reason. I didn’t worry too much, though, since it was my first time practicing.
Monday started off with a dual instrument flight which focuses on flight that references the instruments instead of visual cues. To ensure that the student doesn’t look outside the plane, they put on goggles with the top half of the lenses fogged (hence the name foggles). We practiced simple climbs, turns, and descents by only looking at the instruments. While I flew the plane, my instructor was in charge of making the radio calls and watching for traffic. We also covered unusual attitudes. I had another solo flight at 1:00 pm which consisted of the same maneuvers of Saturday. I finally started getting a grasp of chandelles too. The problem I seem to have is staying coordinated through the turns which cause my roll out on the last 90 degrees of the turn to be too fast. I think with two more solos, I’ll be within standards. My last flight of the extended weekend was my last night flight. The aircraft in front of me did a better job of flying the pattern which allowed me to get more landings in. I got a total of 15 touch and goes done in a matter in an hour and a half.
Well, it’s Monday night and I am exhausted. I tallied up my weekend progress to the tune of 15 hours in only four days. If the weather cooperates in the morning, I’ll be flying my very last solo cross-country of 203 as well as doing a solo flight. If I keep up this quick pace, I’ll be moving on to the second half of commercial time building in no time! All thanks to SIU’s accommodations of motivated students.
For my first night cross-country of 203, my instructor and I flew to Dyersburg airport in Dyersburg, Tennessee. I spent the hour before the flight preparing for my first night flight in over a year. I made sure that I had my flashlight and an extra set of batteries. I also was reading up on the newer 2003 Cessna 172R. This would be the first time I would fly the newer 172s and although the weren’t incredibly different, it’s important to know about the differences. The biggest difference between the new and old models is that the newer R models are fuel injected instead of carburetted. While this means that carburetor ice is now impossible, the downside is that the aircraft are a bit more complicated to start. Little changes included inertia real seat belts and strobe lights. Overall, the R models were nicer.
As we departed Carbondale, we contacted St. Louis radio to open our flight plan and Kansas City center to begin flight following. Upon reaching our cruising altitude of 6,500 feet, we were amazed by the visibility. We could see far past Cape Girardeau and Sikeston, Missouri. The flight to Dyersburg went better than I expected. I was hitting each checkpoint within 5 seconds of what I planned. I have the people who forecasted the winds aloft data to thank for their accuracy though. Upon approaching the airport, we closed our flight plan, cancelled flight following, and set up to land. We turned downwind for runway 22 and noticed that runway 16/34 was pitch black; good thing the winds were favoring 22. The airport was located on the south side of the town which was fairly unpopulated. Since there were virtually no lights south of the airport, we had to be aware of the black hole effect. The black hole effect makes pilots think they are higher than they actually are. This is because of the lack of lights in a certain area. If the pilot does not account for this, they can descend to an unsafe altitude and possible contact the ground short of the runway. That’s why it’s so important for pilots to pay close attention to their instruments and runway glideslope equipment if available while flying at night. My landing at Dyersburg was fairly well considering I hadn’t done a night landing in over a year. The trip back to Carbondale was essentially uneventful. I was hitting each checkpoint within 30 seconds on the way back. Coming back to Carbondale, we called up St.Louis radio to cancel our flight plan. When they responded “18G, Wichita radio, flight plan cancelled” my instructor and I paused with confusion. The controller came back with “Uh, scratch that, St. Louis radio” I guess controllers have their less-than-stellar moments too. After landing back in Carbondale, I put 2.5 hours in my logbook with some more cross-country time.
If you’re wondering how I got the picture above, I used an app called GPSLogger available on the Android market. The app is free to download and is fully customizable. What it does is take snapshots of your GPS locations at set intervals (I set it up to log my position every 30 seconds) and save it in Google Earth format. The app really doesn’t drain that much battery and is easy to use and configure.