While some sleep, the others are messing with night landings… But why??? 🙂
Actually it was a quite long day and somehow I was thinking it would be better to have a bed on board of the Piper… So I took my first coffee this year (yes, this year, as I don´t drink coffee 🙂 ) and we have started to go through all the preparations with my instructor.
Back to basics – flight preparations…
Due to some bad weather at Tenerife North aiport (GCXO) we had to change our initial plan and we have decided to go to Lanzarote (GCRR). I was actually quite happy about the fact to land there for the first time in my life, but I was concerned as well, as this would be my first flight to this destination without having seen this airport during the day. Nevermind, the instructor is sitted next to me and he knows the airport (and we have Garmin430 and AirnavPro as well 🙂
Checking all the lights during the outside check
We have checked MET, TAF and NOTAMs and went down to the the apron. After the preflight check we were ready to go. I like to record my flights and to see them later, to learn from my own mistakes, but unfortunately I haven’t noticed until the way back that I left the lens cap on my Gopro… Grrrrr! My landing at Lanzarote was not the best one (we all love bounced landings!!! 🙂 ), so I don´t need to have this recorded :-).
We have departed as usual on Runway 03L and after departure we have turned right to the NE point. Under normal circumstances we should fly bellow 1.000 feet, but to be honest in the night I didn´t like the idea, so we have requested to climb to FL 095 immediately after the departure. As there was no traffic, we were authorized by the ATC able to climb at our discretion. We had some nice tailwinds as well which gave us some nice groundspeeds of around 117kts… Lucky!!! 🙂
I mix this course a bit with my basic instrument flight module, therefore my departure was not visual and I was practically flying until reaching our cruising altitude without looking outside the window… At this altitude I have discovered, that even between the islands over the Atlantic Ocean, there are some visual references, which can help to guide me to the destination.
The view from up there is simply beautiful, and I am starting to love the flying at night!
Getting closer to our destination, we have started our descent at 500ft/minute, which made us even faster. Reaching Sierra point at Lanzarote should be at 1.000 feet, but I didn’t like the idea to fly so low over the sea without having some good references nor to have the runway in sight. Therefore we have requested to proceed to the long final, which was authorized by the ATC prior holding over Sierra point at 3.000 feet. This was great, and I used the opportunity to open the window and make some pictures of Playa Blanca at night. The traffic in front of us showed me as well where the airport was, another great help at night! 🙂
Playa Blanca at night
If I wouldn’t have forgotten to take off the lens cap, I would have some nice pictures of the runway at Lanzarote as well, but unfortunately I only have this one made by my phone:
Final RWY 03 at Lanzarote
The approach was very good, but it is still difficult for me to guess the right height of the plane above the runway to start the flare; nevermind, I´ll find it out! After the touch and go we have returned back to Gran Canaria at 6,500 feet to avoid the wind which we had on the way to our destination.
Arriving at our destination I have requested to proceed to long final again, to not to fly at 1.000 feet above the sea. The ATC was nice and maintained our altirude of 5.000 feet until the LPC VOR, where we should hold until cleared of traffic. We were holding there for 4-5 minutes, in the meantime they were vectoring some 737´s bellow us to the airport. Awesome to be hanging over them in the air! 🙂
I have no idea about IFR holding patterns, so we did it together with my instructor. Basically, he was telling how to fly and I had no idea what I was doing… But anyway, it looks nice on the map:
Holding over LPC VOR
I always like to practice something new. After a couple of minutes we were cleared to land on RWY 03L, the wind was 030/14kts, so very good flying conditions at the end.
Final RWY 03L at GCLP
And finaly you can see the only video recorded that night; landing at Gran Canaria´s El Gando airport. Safe flights!