What a crazy summer its been. LRH and I have been so busy we haven’t had time to blog in months. We need to change that :(
With the completion of my night flights, I’m almost done with flight training. I had to log one cross country flight at night and Aurora made a great destination. After taking off, I just flew in circles to gain enough altitude to see the Portland lights. The local airfield is set in a valley, making it somewhat dangerous on a moonless night since the ridges are cloaked in darkness. As we ascended to our cruising altitude, my flight instructor asked me if I had ever done a stall-spin at night. I replied with, “No let’s do one! In fact, why don’t we descend to 3000’AGL so there is no room for error.” Fortunately we were both joking!
After we reached 7500’MSL, we tuned Seattle Center and requested VFR flight following (asking for radar tracking). Soon after, we were handed off to Portland approach at PDX and headed west across the Cascades toward the city. En route, we listened to radio conversations between the PDX tower and 737 captains inbound for landing. The best of these conversations featured a Quantas captain complete with an Australian accent :)
It was an amazingly calm and clear night. I could see the tail lights of other air traffic as clearly as the sea of stars above us and the blanket of electric lights below us. As we approached Aurora, we descended and tuned the local CTAF in preparation for landing. There were three other airplanes in the pattern, including an experimental home-built RV. Landing at night was just as tricky as taking off at night. It’s difficult to judge distance and depth with the ground dimly illuminated by electric lights.
The return trip took us north to the gorge and we followed the Columbia River back home. As we we flew just east of the class C airspace surrounding PDX, a 737 passed under us during its descent to landing – a bit too close for [my] comfort :-)
This flight easily ranks as one of the top-ten most incredible things I’ve experienced. I can’t wait to take my wife on a night flight!