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Schlagwort: night VFR

Summer Night

Summer Night

Visibility: More than 10 miles
Temperature: 20°C
Wind: 260°, 4 kts
QNH: 1019hPa
Location: EDAV
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…

Night rating completed

Night rating completed

Visibility: about more than 10 miles, low hanging clouds
Temperature: 3°C
Wind: 260°, 4kts
QNH: 1015hPa
Location: EDAY
Equipment: Cessna 152 (D-EMFM)

The weather has been variable all day. The sun has been busy chasing clouds away and whenever she was not looking, they threw a few rain showers into the mix. I have been eying them nervously. Rain tonight would be bad.

I arrive at the airport in the dusk. “Kilo Sierra” is being loaded on the apron as I walk by. “Fox Mike” is sitting next to her, waiting for me. I’m flying with Klaus this evening. I have not seen him since my light sports training and having him on my right seat is a pleasant surprise.

From the fall to the spring, the airport offers extended night operation hours once a month. I have started to train for the night VFR endorsement well over a year ago. Then I missed a season for my baby break and this winter has been grey and cloudy. Not great for night flying either. Today is the last chance of this season.

Night Flight D-EMFM
Minimal Machine

Fox Mike“ is a tiny Cessna 152 with minimal equipment. I like her and night VFR is legal with her, but she is pretty much as simple as it gets. The instrument panel is iluminated by a small red light mounted on the ceiling above my head. The radio is very basic and the single VOR receiver makes for very limited cross referencing capabilities. Quite a difference to the high tech ship “Alpha Hotel” that I have been flying recently. But that is all part of the training.

The plan for tonight is to pick-up where I have left off a year and a half ago. We go north to the Friedland VOR, then back to Finow for a bit of pattern work before we return home. I enjoy flying at night. The air is calm and the lights are magic.


Klaus has a hand held GPS in his lap. He is double checking my navigation and tells me stories to every single light on the ground. I have a feeling he does not really need the GPS. He has been flying in the area for a while.

The trip is pleasantly uneventful. On the way back we run into isolated rain showers. Since we did not see the clouds at night, we have to fly a pretty abrupt evasive maneuver. After all we don’t want to fly into the clouds. Almost immediately the controller comes on the radio to check on us. Nice to know we are being watched over.


We are almost abeam the airport before we spot the runway in Finow. I adjust speed and altitude on the down wind leg. When I turn final, I am still a bit high. For experienced pilots it is very hard to judge the height above the ground corectly at night. For this junior aviator it is almost impossible.

The runway has lights on the right and on the left. Some more lights at the end and a pretty big aray of lights at the threshold. For the approach we have a set of four lights to the left of the runway. This line forms the “Precision Approach Path Ilumination” (PAPI) – always helpful and crucial at night.

The papi lamps change their colour depending on the viewing angle. On my first approach I come in too high. All four lights are white. As I am adjusting my glide path, the right light becomes red, shortly after that the second light from the right also looks red too me. “Two red, two white – you’re alright”, I’m right on the glide path. Holding this rate of descent will take me to the runway.

Photo by golfcharlie232
Photo by golfcharlie232

At the end of the night I have enough hours for the rating. And I get why being current at night flying matters. Looking forward to the next trip after dusk already!

To be continued…