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Night VFR experience

In addition to my basic instrument flying module I have decided to add a night VFR rating. Basically it is complicated to fly night vfr in Spain, you need to request some 10-14 days in advance a permission, which has to be granted and than you are allowed to fly during the night. So basically even if you have the rating, you are not allowed to land after sundown, only if you have a special permission by the authorities… Spain is simply different. Even our first training flight had to be cancelled because the ATC told us that the permission issued by the authorities was not complete… So the FI had one week to clear all the necessary paperwork and it seemed our permission was ok, only there was some misunderstanding… Finally we got to the plane, which was after a regular check, so everything was in perfect state, except the landing light seemed to not be working… It seemed we had to cancel our flight again. But luckily we had the maintenance guy with us, so he was able to fix the problem and we were ready to go.

Getting our landing light fixed

Getting our landing light fixed

The taxiing was quite easy, there was sufficient light outside.

Taxi via Juliet to the holding point of the RWY 03L

Taxi via Juliet to the holding point of the RWY 03L

In the cockpit there was of course less light than during the day, so this was already the first difference. Engine run-up, all the checks following the checklist we were cleared to line up and wait on the runway 03L.

Line up and wait 03L, Canavia 71

Line up and wait 03L, Canavia 71

The things started to get more serious, haha. The big question was: how is going to be once in the air? The clearance for takeoff came from the tower, so the answer on my question was not far away… Full throttle, paramaters in green, speed alive, rotate into the night. Looking more inside on the instruments than outside; for correct speed, climb, altitude… 500 feet, flap 0, fuel pump off, landing light off and following right turn into the dark. Strange thing is, you don’t realize how deep the darkness bellow the plane is… On the top of that, we had to hold over the bay during the first circuit, so I had to watch the instruments to make a couple of 360 degree turns without seeing any light. I thought always, that from the circuit the runway light could be seen, but they are not! The first 2 circuits were a bit more complicated, but after that I started to get to used to it… When turning on base, lights of some villages could be seen which was really a nice feeling to get again some visual references…

Final Rwy 03L

Final Rwy 03L (night VFR)

There was a wind from the north between 20-25 knots, which gave us 11 knots crosswind component during the approach and the landing on the RWY 03L. It complicates the practicing of the landings in the night a little bit. Or better said quite complicated… I was hoping to have winds calm as it should be in the night, but it was not the case this time :-). There was also a turbulence bellow 300 feet on final so it was tough work to keep the plane leveled. Crosschecking the instruments, ILS, speed, horizon getting safe on the ground. Hovewer the landings were not so great as I would have expected. Still have 3,5 hours to fly, and I already look forward to it! Finaly I made 12 landings (without counting the bounced ones, lol), and made these with the plane this beautiful drawings on the screen of my ipad:

Today’s flight…

Today’s flight… 🙂


After my first successful night flight

After my first successful night flight


Safe landings!


11 thoughts on “Night VFR experience

  1. Oh my, I couldn’t imagine needing several weeks advanced clearance to fly at night! Of course, I do fly in Alaska…and during spring, fall, and winter, there is a lot of darkness…. 🙂 Too impractical to ask everyone to get VFR night clearance I’d think. Several of my late afternoon lessons spilled over into night flying just because we were having a ball.

    Night is my favorite time to practice landings with an instructor. There’s no terrain to distract you, and in Fairbanks, no house lights to distract either. Basically a blank black canvas with just the runway lit up. 😀

    • Yep Christina, it is really a big inconvenience. But at least the clearance lasts for 4 weeks, but only for the specified manouvers, or flight route…

      Like they say: “Spain is different”. At least the authorities have to approve it, then the procedure of filling in the FPL and mentioning the clearance reference, phoning the supervisor in the TWR to confirm it, etc…

      Thanks to my instructor, as he did all the necessary preparations and phone calls… 🙂

      I am quite sure that somewhere in the future this procedure must be changed…

      But is I want to fly in the night, at the moment there are no other options 🙂

  2. Congrats Stan, Yes Spain is different if you want to fly VFR at night, but with our instructors no problems at all.
    I flew with a friend (another Canavia pilot) from ACE to LPA and it was great!
    What software do you use to trace your flights? I use the Navigation from Google but it does not draws the altitud, only the circuit in 2D as you can see ( http://www.algunascosas.com/circuito-de-trafico ) .

  3. Congrats Stan, Yes Spain is different if you want to fly at night, but with our instructors no problem at all :D. I flew from ACE to LPA with a friend ( other Canavia’s pilot ) and it was a great flight!
    What software do you use to trace your flights? I use Navigation from Google but it does no trace the altitud only a 2D view as you can see here (http://www.algunascosas.com/circuito-de-trafico )

    • Thank you! My next flight will be LPA-ACE… How was your experience? You went as pilot? How was it so long time over the ocean without the visual references? Or maybe you have a post about it, if yes, I’d love to read it!
      I use on my Ipad Airnav Pro. Very good app, and it allows you to export the flight into Google earth, where you could see it in 3D as well….
      Safe flight!

      • Hi Stan, The experience was great, but not, I was not the pilot. The flight was about 1h 40 minutes long from block to block, we climbed till 6000feet and mantained about 130KIAS, you can read it here: http://www.algunascosas.com/vuelo-lanzarote-gran-canaria

        AirNav Pro, everybody talks to me about this soft, but I have no Ipad. As I read the android version is not good as the Ipad one so I did not buy it ( I have to by an Ipad )

        Have a nice and safe flights!


      • Hi Ruben,

        As I see, the it was an IFR flight. Nice resumen of the flight, and the video quality was good as well.

        Airnav Pro is really good, earlier I used it on my Android smartphone, it was not bad, but all the newest things are comming out for IOS first and months later for Android.

        Now my problem is solved as I use IOS only 🙂

  4. Yes, the flight was an IFR flight but trying to get visual references all the time we did not fly over the sea.

  5. Pingback: Refreshing night VFR flying | Stan's blog - Sharing (not only) my flying experiences...

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