Sunday, June 14, 2009

More nightness

Another night session at Bankstown.

Julien commented on one of my recent posts - he happened to attend the same session of night circuits as myself a few weeks ago. We didn't fly together, but G'day Julien if you're reading this. I'll be reading your blog with interest in the future.

Daniel Martin was our instructor for the session, a very experienced and agreeably laid back instructor at Schofields. Grahame Smith and Dave Roberts were my fellow acolytes. Grahame took us out to show us how it was done, and really gave us something to aim for. Grahame never got around to completing his night VFR rating, but is an experienced IFR pilot and it showed in his precise speed control and effective instrument scan. He took it round for three good circuits, copping a nasty patch of slipstream for an Archer in front of us. It threw the aircraft off at least 30 degrees angle of bank shortly after take off and really got our attention. Landed, taxi back and shut down.

Now my turn. Took it around for one good circuit and a squeaker of a landing. Normally this would be a good thing, but I would rather have my landings be a little on the firm side at night, rather than grope around in the flare and float too high. The next circuit was ok and the landing this time was firm, but rather too hard. A Duchess was on its way into the circuit and the tower requested we extend out downwind leg to accommodate it. I choose to turn too early, thinking a Duchess would be a bit faster than our Warrior. Pilots who have flown a Duchess may choose to chuckle at my expense at this point. I also didn't twig to the transmission that preceded, advising the Duchess to slow to follow a Liberty. We ended up going too close behind, and being asked to go around. It's a good thing to get to practice a go around at night, I rationalised. The last circuit was good up until it was my time to receive a fright.

On late final we encountered wake turbulence as Grahame had earlier. And there's no wake turbulence quite like wake turbulence at 100 feet. The left wing dropped past 30 degrees and I put in a boot full of right rudder to pick it up. It wasn't done with us though and we dropped first the left and then the right wing during the flare, probably no more than 10 feet off the ground. The landing was surprisingly good, taxi back and shutdown to allow Dave to have a go and for my heart rate to retrun to normal. Dan speculated that because the night was so still and calm, wake turbulence was hanging around for longer rather than being broken up by passing currents as it would during the day. Another good lesson there, campers.

Unfortunately as Dave is a pre-solo student we weren't permitted to be on board while he flew the circuit, so Grahame and I waved him good night and wandered back to the clubhouse, which was a decidedly warmer place to be.


At 7:55 pm, Blogger Julien said...

I'll be at Warnervale this Sunday for the club's flying competition. Will you be there? Also starting Night Rating tomorrow evening with Ben. Hope to see you at the club one of those days!

At 8:58 am, Anonymous ChrisP said...

Hardly ever comment as after I've read your extensive posts not much else to say and as I'm not in GA these days I don't have any neat stories to swap--although as I told Wilco a while back I've got my eye on a C-170B owned by an ex-Alaskan Bush pilot whose lost his medical. Has factory installed STOL wing, souped-up 185hp Lycombing engine w. constant speed prop.

Seems to be you rather enjoy night flying (aside from the basic reasons of cert. and keeping skills polished) I always enjoyed it too--one is sort of all alone in a way one never is in daylight VFR. Same reason I like long-distance night driving, I guess--must be genetic--like those who are claustrophobic and could never stand submarine duty while others seem to not just tolerate such close quarters but actually love it.

At 8:59 am, Anonymous virgil xenophon said...

Sorry Chris, how'd THAT happen??


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