Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Night Rating

Yesterday evening (September 29th 2008) I had the practical exam for the night rating. I started with the training last Saturday evening. According to the syllabus one needs at least 5 hour of flight training in night conditions for night rating. Months ago I attenede the theoretical part of the training.
Since I got my PPL(A) there were several occasions when it would be much easier if I would have night rating at that time. All these occasions were one big struggle with the time in order to land before the official night starts (sunset + 30 minutes). Now fall is coming in and the days are getting shorter and I have still some journeys to fly. Therefore the night rating was something what would make my life much easier. I really don't plan to fly much during the night as it is not a very good feeling flying in a single engine aircraft and experience an engine failure. But it is a good extension for your flight when you can prolongate your daily VFR flight into night VFR and land at the destination airport some short time after the official daylight conditions end.
I started my first night training on a brand new Cessna 172SP with the glass cockpit, which has only about 200 hours. Although I have over 62 hours on C172 , the new glass cockpit environment was a very unpleasant time for me. Also flying in the night conditions was something new for me. But the biggest change was the glass cockpit. I attended a several hours training before my first flight but obviously this was not enough for me. I felt so uncomfortable that my overall performance was significantly reduced.
My instructor was Matej Cerar from "Janez let" flying school, a great young man, who tries to transfer all his knowledge to his students. He was my instructor for my PPL(A) as well. We departed from Divača just before the sunset and continued to Ljubljana airport (LJLJ) where I had performed my first night landings. The first one was not a very smooth one, however, all others were good enough and those without flaps were the best ones.
Next morning, it was Sunday morning, we departed early and performed a touch-and-go and then proceeded to Divača where we landed already in daily VFR conditions.
For my next training I chose the old Cesna 172 which I was using during my training for PPL. What a relief! Known environment and behavior! Yesterday evening we departed from Divača before the official night started and again flew to Ljubljana airport. Then I was performing traffic patterns more than one hour to gather enough practice. After landing, I had a briefing with the examiner Aleš Štimec and then we departed on the night exam flight across half of Slovenia. It was a gorgeous night without moon and there were no clouds. After departure from LJLJ I had to make a short diversion to Ljubljana city where I was climbing to 8500 feet while waiting that the IFR traffic will land at LJLJ. After that the route was to DOL VOR, Polzela, Trebnje, Velike Lašče, S3 and LJLJ. At the end I had to perform two landings, one was with landing light and flaps, the other one was flapless and without any light in the cabin. I was tempted to use the battery, however, I decided to land without being able to see the instruments. Of course, the examiner had a GPS receiver in front of him, so he was able to monitor the airspeed. And surprisingly, the landing was very smooth.
Finally, after 1 hour and 38 minutes, the exam flight was over. I passed. After the de-briefing we finally left airport after midnight.

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