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  #1  
Old 11-24-2013, 08:37 PM
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bret bret is offline
 
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Location: Gardnerville Nv.
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Talking Who said no night flights?

I can't remember if it was Paul or some one else who said, no night flying for them and a whole other set of no no criteria. So, this week end.........I planed a trip to see the parents in Norther Ca. from the Tahoe area. I have made this trip many times before in the day light but......The original plan was to leave 10 min before sun rise, weather and pre flight all good to go, but, we ended up departing a lot earlier, (military training, I hate to be late), so, as we were gaining altitude to clear the mountain range, and the city lights of Carson City disappeared behind us, I began to notice how dark is was becoming, as in, no definitive line of the horizon. On board, we have a 6 pack, 430 and Wing X. I felt confident and in control until we encountered severe turbulence over Truckee and for another 30 min. I was finding myself recalling the instrument training (many years ago) of flying actual IMC. I was telling myself, this is bad, finding it very difficult to maintain heading and altitude with the severe up and down drafts taking us all over the place and trying to maintain critical terrain clearance. I did not anticipate that I was going to have to rely totally on the instruments for this VFR....night flight.
My back yard IS the Sierra Nevada Mt range and home to the Nevada triangle. A real bad place to play if you are not familiar with it. I do fly and play here all the time....with sunshine.... I don't think I will be doing this flight again in the dark.
The reason for this post is, I had my beautiful daughter with me and I let my guard down to keep her safe. I should have never done this flight.
So why did I think it would be ok to do this flight? All of my earlier flying was in the LA basin, going to Big Bear and all over with lots of CITY LIGHTS, there is your night horizon.
So, has any one else got caught up in a situation you THOUGHT you were prepared for, but not? Funny thing is, you don't know, until after it happens. With this story I hope that my fortunate ignorance might help some one think before a night flight.
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  #2  
Old 11-24-2013, 09:24 PM
BobTurner BobTurner is offline
 
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No question about it, vfr flight on a dark night can be 'flight by reference to instruments'. Some countries (Mexico) do not allow vfr at night. Years ago I was over west Texas in good vfr but a really dark night. ATC called traffic at 1 o'clock. I spotted his strobes, and while I stared at him(fixation-mistake!) he turned toward me! I figured a right turn was the best evasive maneuver. Fortunately, I went back on the gauges to make the turn - and was shocked to see that I was already in a 40 degree right bank! The traffic hadn't turned at all, it was me. I shuddered to think what might of happened if I had tried to turn right while still staring at the traffic.
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Old 11-24-2013, 09:25 PM
springer springer is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bret View Post
I can't remember if it was Paul or some one else who said, no night flying for them and a whole other set of no no criteria.
The website owner, Doug:

http://www.vansairforce.net/mytakeonflying.htm
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  #4  
Old 11-24-2013, 09:36 PM
John RV8 John RV8 is online now
 
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Default Night flight??

I'm glad your flight ended safely. I must admit I know nothing about flying in the mountians in GA aircraft. I am courious if there were any hints about possible turbulence in your preflight weather checks? Also had this flight turned out to be perfectly smooth would you still question night flight? I do fly at night but only over flat terrain in very good weather with a lot of moonlight
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  #5  
Old 11-24-2013, 09:39 PM
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There it is, thank you!
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  #6  
Old 11-24-2013, 09:54 PM
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I have a ton of hours bombing around flat Texas 20 years ago in all kinds of cheap spam cans after midnight long cross country, watching the strike finder. These days, for us, night flight (rare) IS defined for us as a default IFR flight, no matter what. Wisdom. We all acquire it in different ways.
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  #7  
Old 11-24-2013, 10:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John RV8 View Post
I'm glad your flight ended safely. I must admit I know nothing about flying in the mountians in GA aircraft. I am courious if there were any hints about possible turbulence in your preflight weather checks? Also had this flight turned out to be perfectly smooth would you still question night flight? I do fly at night but only over flat terrain in very good weather with a lot of moonlight
I look at it like a River, water flowing over the rocks, water goes up and down. So there I was with the winds in the dark, going up and down with the drafts 400 to 900 FPM along for the ride hoping I had enough altitude above the peaks. Do you turn around? Do you hold out for another five min? I guarantee all have been in a similar point of what do I do now. For me at the time it was ok. But to go back in time I would have turned around. Isn't that weird how our minds think?
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Old 11-24-2013, 10:33 PM
rockwoodrv9 rockwoodrv9 is offline
 
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That would never happen to me because I HATE getting up early!! Sometimes it may be better to be lazy! Bret - it must have been tough mind games especially with your daughter with you. I don't envy those feelings at all. The positive things from it is you will probably think about it every time you start to make a choice about your flights. By telling us, you have allowed us to use your experience and learn. Thanks.

One of the deals I made with my wife when we discussed building and getting back into flying was no night flying, no bad weather, no buzzing anyone, and don't run out of gas. I know others may think the best flying is at night and I am not suggesting that there is anything wrong with it. For me, I just don't have the experience or training to risk it. My son flys an Apache and almost all of his flights are at night below 500'. It scares me just to think of it.

Glad things worked out for you and you were able to keep your head and fly the plane. On another note - it must be getting cold at Pickle Meadows!
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  #9  
Old 11-24-2013, 11:08 PM
sailvi767 sailvi767 is offline
 
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I will fly at night in a RV however I have a lot of conditions. If most are not in my favor I am not going. Weather, moon phase, terrain, passengers all factor in. My basic rule is flat terrain and enough moonlight to pick out a field. Others will have different minimums and that is fine because its a personal choice.
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  #10  
Old 11-24-2013, 11:11 PM
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Eddie P Eddie P is offline
 
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Remember that old joke about the CFI quizzing his student about engine failures at night? CFI -"What do you do if you have an engine failure at night and in your chosen landing zone you turn on the landing light and don't like what you see?" Student... "Ahhh... what?" CFI - "Turn the light off"

Bret we have never met but I am so, so happy you had a safe outcome to your flight and new found experience!! Fellow Sierra flyer here... I've come to deeply respect the area we live in as I know you have too.

Our mountain wave activity is something to really behold (and avoid unless you are a glider guy and I've flown the wave in sailplanes and it will certainly give anyone a new appreciation for the utter monster power of mother nature vs. aircraft).

Back in my emergency evac days in the area I had been caught in downdrafts and severe turbulence that exceeded the normal 4000FPM rate of climb I typically had available and it tore the cockpit doors off the tracks due to the severe shaking. Truckee, as you probably know, has hosted many severe windshear and rotor events that have caused Learjets, high performance other aircraft, etc to crash.

I like to keep my over flights of the area in single engine planes in daylight not only for see and avoid rotor clouds, lennticulars clouds, etc but also to know I have a visual fighting chance if I had to put the aircraft down due to severe downdrafts or engine failure. Remember recently the AA1 that was forced down onto Martis Peak? He walked away luckily, and put it down in the right area. Also the sight seeing 182 that had to put down (fortunately safely) near Spooner summit? Wow, at night... no way!

For me a little bit of pattern flying at night or sight seeing over town is fine for currency and variety but I am more chicken these days and only do that in really nice weather and not over the rocks, in a SEL, if I can avoid it. I've gone "rock hopping" in SEL's many times in the past, but these days I guess pick my night flying SEL routes pretty conservatively and go IFR (I follow roads, big, well lit, flat roads!)

PS - Salvi, you have good ideas about the moonlight, etc. Agree entirely!
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