Sunday, June 23, 2013

Night Flight

2130hrs. Full dark. Advance the throttle and roll off down the runway on a planned cross-country night flight to New Market, VA.

Flight Services gave me a clear shot weather-wise, with the caveat of the potential for some "pop-up" thunderstorms west of my path, however a short time into my flight, I started seeing lighting flashes ahead, including some impressive cloud-to-ground strikes. Thanks, FSS. New Market'll have to wait, because I wasn't about to go mix it up in that stuff in the dark over mountain terrain. So I banked over towards Winchester, VA and ran a simulated engine-out drill, announcing my position and intentions to any other aircraft before chopping the power back to idle and gliding it over to the airport and in. I made it and set it down smooth as silk but honestly I could have handled my glide set-up a bit better.

Then it was a 180 (more or less) and I flew back north and across the Potomac River into Maryland on an approach to Hagerstown Regional. The tower was just closing for the night when I made initial contact from 20 miles out, but the nice controller made sure that I had all the info I needed for my approach and subsequent departure and he gave me an update on the weather to the south as well--some pockets of light rain surrounding some smaller pockets of severe thunderstorm activity, presently over the New Market area. Choice to abort New Market flight plan was a winner.

By the time I reached Hagerstown, the tower was closed and the airspace had reverted to Class G--uncontrolled. This wasn't a big deal as I was the only thing flying for miles, unless you count all of those big jets that I kept seeing way, way up there where Cessnas can't go unless they're disassembled and packed into a big jet. I dropped down onto their runway 27 for a full-stop landing, then took off again and flew back towards home. I skimmed back over the Potomac at 3,000 feet, all the while pondering the injustice of those other aircraft up at 30,000 to 40,000 feet that I kept seeing. I have GOT to get a more powerful, higher-flying airplane.

And sadly, the Stearman that I've been mulling probably won't come off. The aircraft in question flies at present but it was converted to a crop duster back in 1946 and the conversion was a thorough one. Converting it back to something usable would probably cost me more than buying one that's not a duster. But I'm still looking at a few angles as it is a 450HP model and those things are incredible!

Anyway, I made it back home and made a "no dinosaur" landing. (The dinosaur on my dash board didn't tip over--the mark of a practically perfect landing, only possible when there are no witnesses about.) Storms aside, it was a great night to be up and I got another 1.5 hours of night flying and three more night landings in the log book. Now I'm home at the Lair, drinking beer and throwing a toy for Murphy. Life's good.


  1. Good for you, and SMART move... Cessna's and T-storms DO NOT mix well...

  2. Well done, Wash ... er, ML. Well done!

  3. There are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old, bold pilots.