Tuesday, November 18, 2008

95 Knots With No Lights...

Well... after taking a few weeks off, largely due to adverse wind and weather conditions, I have resumed my flight training and now have 2.1 hours of night flight in my Pilot Logbook. And I must say... flying at night is one incredible ride! There is just something about piercing the air at 95 knots (109 miles per hour) with no lights.

In many ways flying at night parallels the life of faith. Just as a Christian must live by faith and not by sight, or even feeling, a pilot must fly by the instruments rather than by sight or feeling. If a pilot disregards the instruments, for the sake of his feelings or intuitions, he is inviting catastrophy into his life... literally he is flirting with disaster. Likewise, the Christian who forsakes a life of faith, for a life of feeling, invites less than God's best into his life... literally he is flirting with spiritual disaster.

Well.. enough preaching... back to my story.

Last night I had to do my pre-flight inspection in the dark. Yes I used a small flash light, but even so, the inspection demanded additional dilegence from me. After I had finished, Randy (my instructor) and I buckled up, cranked 'er up, and taxied toward Runway 1-7. After completing a pre-flight run up, setting the heading indicator, and making my call... "West Woodward traffic, Cesna 5453 Mike departing 1-7, West Woodward"... I positioned the aircraft in the center of the runway, firewalled the throttle, lifted off, turned off the landing light, and sped off into the wild black yonder. Exhilarating!

We stayed in the flight pattern for about an hour and did several touch and gos. Since the regulations require a simulated electrical failure, a couple of the approaches were done with no landing light. Up until that moment I had thought 95 knots and no lights was a rush, but I must say, approaching the ground at 70 knots (80 miles per hour) with no lights is even more intensely so. Let me just say this... the ground approaches really, really fast and... you can't see it until you touch it.

I am pleased to say that one of the best landings I have made, to date, was made in dark last night. I am not sure why, but maybe it had something to do with focus. Yea that's it... since it was too dark to see anything that might have otherwise distracted me, I was forced to focus all my attention on the only thing that really mattered at the time... gently flying the plane onto the runway.

In life, too often we are so distracted by the insignificant that we are unable to focus on the significant. In flying, this will take you out... as in get you killed. In life, it may not get you killed, but it will none-the-less take you out.

Oh... there I go... preaching again...