Visibility: More than 10 miles
Wind: 260°, 4 kts
Equipment: Piper 28 (D-EITI)
Summer has finally arrived. The sky is blue, the temperatures are high and the days are long. We are approaching mid summer, the longest day.
By definition that also means the shortest night. Not the most obvious of times for night flying and yet we are on the way to the airport while others are thinking about one more for the road.
My flying friend is working on his night VFR rating as a prerequisite for IFR training. I am more than glad to share the cost and get some additional dual time at night. I have gained my night rating a while back but have not practiced since then. And night flying requires even more practice than flying during the day.
The sun is already low when we arrive at the airport. We pre-flight „Tango India“ in the dusk of the warm day. Then we go over the flight plan once more. Our route today will take us right over the Big City that never quite sleeps. Then on to the old mining town of Eisenhüttenstadt for some pattern work before we eventually turn back home.
Night flying always requires a flight plan as well as radio contact to a radar controller. They don’t want you to get lost at night.
I am flying as a passenger in the back on the first part of the trip. The ride over the city is amazing. The air is glassy smooth the visibility is unlimited and the lights below look like from out of this world. When we cross over Tegel airport, the controller is friendly and talkative, but he will not let us make a low pass.
In Eisenhüttenstadt we are one of two planes making use of the night time operation. After a quick coffee break and a nice chat, we are trading places. It is my turn to guide the Piper through the night.
I am on guard, but I also enjoy the special atmosphere of flying under the stars. The relaxing cruise part of the trip is short and before long it is time to begin our decent into Finow.
We do pattern work in the familiar traffic circuit of our home airport and yet, nothing seems familiar about the impenetrable sea of dark below us. The distance to the impossibly small string of pearls that comprises the landing lights is hard to judge.
After we have put the Piper to bed, we are making our way back to the Big City in flight level 0. We are all exhausted but also full of adrenalin and excitement from the great night.
When I arrive back home, the sun is confident about her impending victory over the dark of night already. I have a cold beer on the balcony before I go to bed for a short nap.
To be continued…