All photos me too, copyrighted
With the weather having been steadily uncooperative these past few months – going from snow to dull, oppressive overcast and back – the arrival of sunny and clear skies, a light, refreshing wind and springtime temperatures was greeted with enthusiasm among those of us aching to go flying. Wasting little time – believing that, if Mr. Murphy was consistent, it wouldn’t last – a friend and I made arrangements with our instructor to kick the flying year off with a Night VFR refresher flight :).
Not being sure what are the regulations in other countries, I’d better explain – in Croatia, Night VFR is treated as an additional qualification to the standard Day VFR and can be done by anyone holding a stock PPL license. What it amounts to is 5-6 hours dual command time with an instructor, finished off with (usually) five solo circuits. The exact curriculum varies from instructor/FTO to instructor/FTO, but we, for example, had:
- standard, fast and ILS approaches
- standard and full flap landings at different runway lighting levels
- standard rate and 60 degree turns
- slow flight
- cross-country route using radio navigation
In theory, this then allows you to fly both within the aerodrome control zone and cross-country along designated VFR routes. In practice, we rarely leave the control zone: Croatia is a rather hilly country – with significant mountainous areas – and with few large cities (which at night all look the same), so the prospect of going long distance in a single engine airplane is not really that appealing… should the engine decide to quit, you are faced with complete darkness, few lit roads, few larger cities and even fewer airports where to make your emergency landing – and that’s bound to end in tears. So we leave the night bit to the twins (which then again fly IFR…), sticking to the vicinity of the airport and the occasional panoramic flight above Zagreb. You may ask what’s the point then; the Night VFR qualification is also a requirement for the Instrument Rating, something most of us are aiming for, so while we’re here we might just get that off the list :).
Having last flown at night at the beginning of last year, we decided a few days ago to get our hand back in and finally give our planes a little shakedown…