Night flying

As the sun starts to set and stars fills the empty skies, I feel my heart beating faster and excitement rising within me. Today will be my very first time attempting to fly a jet aircraft in the dark with minimum lighting surrounding the airfield. So much on what have been taught in the books about the various psychological effects in the night, I am keeping my fingers crossed and praying that I’ll execute the mission safely.

I never realized how beautiful the cockpit presentation is until I’ve started up the engines and adjusted all the interior lighting. The dim red console lights aids in calibrating the eyes to the night environment pretty quickly. With lightings around the airfield demarcating the various taxiways and runways, the only difficulty I encountered was to judge the separation distance from other aircraft taxiing ahead.

After obtaining clearance for take-off from the tower, I proceeded to line up on the runway for the take-off roll. Upon rotation and getting airborne, I was amazed by the night view and it wasn’t difficult to spot the brightly lighted skyscrapers in Perth City. My instructor demoed one circuit and landing before I was given the opportunity to try it. I must say that landing in the night (with landing lights) is challenging as misjudging or late in flaring the aircraft would be disastrous.

Sad to say, at our current stage of training, night flying is only an introduction and it consists of only 4 sorties. However, it is definitely a great experience and confidence booster, knowing that I am able to pilot an aircraft safely in the night.