Sunday, November 23, 2014

Ground Stars!

Ground stars was the description of a photo I posted from one of my two recent night flights. I am
certainly maintaining night currency days with the sun so low in the sky in the evenings. Friday night after work, Bob, his sister, Dana, and I departed for DYL to spend an early Thanksgiving with their parents.

It was an ideal flight, one pilots dream of: Clear. calm, and lights twinkling above and below. The 117nm flight took 1.3 hours and along the way I finally got to test out a the iFly GPS app on my Google Nexus tablet a bit more. I had used it in on my scholarship GPS skywriting flight, but it kept losing GPS lock which I was assuming because it was on my lap. I have yet to buy a mount and determined that even at yoke height it wouldn't keep signal lock. I believe I'll need to get a Bluetooth external GPS for it. 

What I have learned so far from iFly GPS is that it is very easy to set up a flight plan and view airspace and airport info while throughout the flight. The only thing that weirded me out was that you have to switch sectional charts throughout the flight, lest you fly through the legend of the chart. But, there is just a simple toggle to switch between charts when you are flying through an area that it switches.

On the flight back I used the iFly GPS but just kept it on the top of the dash so it would maintain lock and be ready for me in the case my main GPS unit failed. Dana and Bob were apparently suffering from a food coma so I was left with my thoughts flying through the night sky while they slept.

The return home was grueling...grueling in the fact that our max ground speed was 87 knots and I had to use the restroom! So I hummed to myself watching the overcast layer several thousand feet above me slowly drift away as we got closer to Frederick. I was cleared straight in to 23 and landed with a bit more of a thud than my bladder appreciated. I hopped out and while Bob go the hangar opened, made myself more comfortable :)

My latest flights have been chilly and dark. But nothing warms a pilot's heart more than looking to the land below and seeing all the ground stars. Have you been making use of all the darkness?

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