Night Currency Regained

October 8th, 2008

In order to carry passengers, FAA regulations require pilots to perform 3 takeoffs and landings in the last 90 days, and if passengers are to be carried at night (defined in this case to be the period beginning 1 hour after sunset and ending 1 hour before sunrise) those takeoffs and landings must be made at night, and the landings must be to a full stop. Well unfortunately it’s been over 90 days for me, so tonight I took 63843 up around the pattern to satisfy this requirement. It’s been increasingly difficult to schedule aircraft rentals from Hillsboro Aviation because there has been a high volume of flight training in the last few months. Their business model is definitely a flight school, not a rental agency, and tonight this was made abundantly clear to me. A recent change in Hillsboro Aviation’s policy requires EVERY flight to be signed off by a fixed-wing flight instructor (CFI), even renters with current pilot certificates who are just going up in the pattern. Unfortunately all of the flight instructors had gone home for the evening! I waited in the dispatch office for a solid hour before deciding to pack it in, but as I was heading back to my car I spotted a CFI and had him sign me out. I hopped in the airplane, started it up, and got my clearances from the tower.

It felt really good to get back up in the air, even if it was just in the traffic pattern, and the landings all went well. Taxiways A4 and A5 were closed, and the controller was having the other airplanes turn around on the runway and exit on A6. I decided that for the last landing I’d try to stop by A6 so I wouldn’t have to circle around, and I’d have an excuse to practice short-field landing technique. The controller had me extend the downwind leg clear out to Beaverton so another airplane could do the turn-around maneuver on the runway, giving me a few extra moments to take in the city lights. I approached at a higher than normal angle of attack for a short-field landing, kept in some extra power until I was over my desired touch down point, cut the power and planted it firmly on the runway, hit the brakes, and was stopped before A6!

I’m going to look in to some rental options other than Hillsboro Aviation. They’re just not set up for renters, their airplane availability is next to impossible to work with, and their rental rates are well above average. It would be nice to be able to start up lessons for the Instrument Rating again. Having some more options can’t hurt.

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