|Cirrus SR20 at night with Cirrus Perspective avionics|
|KHPN --> Hudson River --> 20N --> 1B1|
My first stop, 20N, is a shoreline airport making it easy to locate. This is a uncontrolled field, and at night an airport must be visibly lighted. The way class E airports work at night is by using pilot controlled lighting systems. Basically they have a frequency (found in the A/FD) where pilots can tap their talk buttons creating clicks, and when these clicks are heard over the radio they activate the runway lights. It is a pretty reliable system that takes a little bit of getting used to from the pilots perspective. It really is a cool thing to watch an airport come to life with runway lights on your own cue, which was my favorite part of the night flight. Finding the airport is still a challenge. Although one is tempted to look for the runway lights, airports are found easiest by searching for their rotating beacons. Once spotted, you must keep an eye on the airport or else you'll lose sight of it. I thought I mastered entering patterns, but at night ones sense of depth is lost and I was way to close to the runway on my downing leg. Following the glideslope at 20N I was able to make up for my mistake and execute a landing. The cool thing I found about night landings is how just when you approach the runway, maybe 10 feet up, your landing light begins to illuminate the runway in front of you making it much more visible that it is on approach.
Next we flew to Columbia (1B1) which is an airport that neither has a glideslope indicator nor easy VFR route. I planned to locate my position by triangulating between two VOR's, and that way I'd find an approximate location on the chart. It is always necessary to know where you are because this way I am able to determine the approximate time to begin my decent for the airport and where to look for the airport. Columbia does not have a glideslope indicator for runway 03, making the approach difficult. I had to stay on a proper decent path completely visually; at night without being able to see treetops and hillsides, this became a bit stressful. I came over the runway a bit high but landed just fine.
|Wing ice lights on Cirrus|
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