So last night I made plans to be at the airport right at sunset. Pulled the 340 out and preflighted it, (took my time about it and all but still) fired up the engines and taxiied to the runway timed such that it was exactly 35 minutes after legal sunset…therefore 5 minutes past “night” as defined by the FAA. Did the runup and waited for traffic on the other runway to land, then departed, staying in the pattern.
Turned crosswind, then downwind, then a base. Final was just a bit high, but a little power pulled back made for a quick correction. Proper airspeed and I crossed the numbers at 84 knots and touched down exactly at the leading edge of the thousand foot marks. Rolled out to the end and taxiied back for another one. This time another plane was calling “downwind” but I could not see him, and it looked on the ADSB traffic that he was actually on the upwind. (I called and asked him where he was. He again claimed he was downwind. I told him I would hold position until he landed (as I was pretty sure he was confused) and didn’t want to be surprised by whatever he did…safer on the ground)…..Finally the plane waiting behind me said “Look at your compass”…he then admitted that he was indeed upwind and told me to go ahead and take off as he was gonna go a lap around the pattern…..
Second takeoff was much like the first, rotated at 90, lower the noze to pitch for blue line, gear up at positive rate of climb, then up to about 600 feet, then a crosswind turn and then a downwind turn at pattern altitude (and a radio call for each segment). Pull the power back at pattern altitude and before you know it you are midfield. Pull the power back even more and then first notch of flaps to begin a descent., then altitude for the base turn, call the base, then gear and a turn to final. Call the final…GUMPS, second notch of flaps, another GUMPS check, then set the speed for the short final. Pitch and power . Fine tune your descent rate and altitude…check the PAPI lights one last time, Cross the numbers at 80 knots and then raise the nose slightly and ease the power out. Stall horn and touch down simultaneously.. one, two, three and roll out to the end. Again right at the thousand footers.
Taxi back and do it one more time. Then again.
I am lucky, in that I don’t seem to suffer from the issues that many pilots do at night. I do have issues adjusting from dark to too much light and back again, but that is generally not an issue in the landing environment at night. (I find it harder to drive at night than to fly and land). No “Black Hole” issues, no “False Horizon” none of the issues some pilots encounter. None of the sensory issues either…at least so far.
So I did a total of 4 night landings, and they were all decent. I am legal to carry passengers at night now, and more importantly, comfortable and competent and current to land at night.
So that’s 4 landings and 0.6 time (and about 22 gallons of LL)
It was a good evening. Went home ate, had a cocktail and went to bed.