Night Flying and Crazy Landings

July 30th, 2010 § 1

Wow. That was prob­a­bly the most inter­est­ing flight yet. We started off head­ing to the North­west track­ing Sparta VOR. Tom made me don the hood and do some climbs and descents while track­ing the VOR. I did a 180 degree turn and setup for some maneu­vers. First a power-off stall, then a power-on, then some steep turns. All went well (I could’ve been quicker with the flaps on the power-off, and I did lose 100 feet in the steep turn, but not bad.) Some­where in there we also did some unusual atti­tudes — it’s all a blur now. We headed back to Cald­well… and that’s when the fun started.

SPOILER ALERT (if you’re fly­ing with Tom) I needed to do 8 more night land­ings to reach the require­ment of 10. This is how they went:

First Land­ing: The first one was nor­mal. We were com­ing from the West, so we entered a left base for Run­way 4.

Sec­ond Land­ing: For the sec­ond land­ing, Tom turned off my land­ing light, so I couldn’t really see the run­way mark­ings. As we were land­ing, I said, ” Thanks for turn­ing my land­ing light off.” He replied, “You ain’t seen noth­ing yet.” He was right.

Third Land­ing: My land­ing light stayed off for take­off and while we were on the down­wind, Tom turned all the cock­pit lights off. I couldn’t see any of the instru­ments. I asked if I could use my flash­light. He said, “No.” The land­ing was fine and done by feel. Could it get more interesting?

Fourth Land­ing: I still had no instru­ments or land­ing light on take­off. I setup for another land­ing. I put the flaps in at 10 degrees like nor­mal. I turned base. It felt kind of weird. We didn’t seem to be descend­ing like nor­mal. I pulled out some power and raised the nose. I put in 20 degrees of flaps. Turn­ing final, it was appar­ent we were going much faster than nor­mal. The run­way closed in quickly and I had the power all the way out very early. I didn’t put the rest of the flaps in… I fig­ured we could land fast. We landed fine and very smoothly. I went to put the flaps up right away and real­ized they were already up. That’s when I fig­ured it out. Every time I put the flaps in, Tom was tak­ing them out. Ugh. But it worked.

Fifth Land­ing: On the next one Tom asked, “Do you want the good news or the bad news?” By now I’ve learned that the bad news means he’s going to pull the power. And he did. The good news was that he gave me my lights back. Yay — as if that was going to last long.

Sixth Land­ing: Yup. What one hand giveth, the same hand taketh away on the next land­ing. This was another engine-out approach, but this time with no lights. “How am I sup­posed to know if I’m at the best glide speed?”, I was think­ing. I didn’t know, but I did land it and that’s what mat­tered. I believe my com­ment after land­ing was, “Holy crap.”

Sev­enth Land­ing: I got a break on this one. I had engine power, but I didn’t have a land­ing light, cock­pit lights, or flaps. By this point, how­ever, I was get­ting quite used to get­ting all the cues from out­side. I men­tioned to Tom that this really gets you con­nected with the out­side. It was really all by feel. It was a fast approach, and a bit of a smack onto the run­way, but not terrible.

Eighth Land­ing: I got my cock­pit lights back, but not my land­ing light. At about 100 feet, Tom says, “deer on the run­way!” For the first few sec­onds I thought, “I don’t see a deer” and “How the hell does Tom see any­thing on the run­way, there are no lights on it?” Then I real­ized he just wanted me to do a go-around. And that’s what I did.

Eighth Again: And the grand-daddy of them all… a com­plete fail­ure. No engine, no land­ing light, no cock­pit lights, no flaps. Luck­ily I still had aileron, ele­va­tor and rud­der. We landed smoothly and we were done. Amazing.

That was really a lot of fun.

Plane: N677DM (C172)
From: CDW
Dura­tion: 1.8

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