clintmr has contributed to 5 posts out of 1193 total posts
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It was on my 3rd solo. I was doing pattern work, and the area was very busy. I had extended downwinds on every circut. Anyway, on my third pass through the pattern, I heard the controller talking to a Gulfstream who was 5 miles out on a straight in approach. I made a mental note not to turn base until I made visual contact an was clear to do so. I extended my downwind, and saw a Gulfstream pass by. I turned Base. I was about to turn final when I heard the controller speaking with "another" Gulfstream. I seem to remember hearing something about 2 mile final. That was enough to make me look out my right window and see a very large (at least compared to my 172!) corporate jet bearing down on me! Right away, I made a left 360 to avoid turning final. At that time, the controller saw what was happening and asked me to make the left 360 I had already begun. Anyway, the jet passed on by, and I followed him in...but at a VERY safe distance!
Once I had time to reflect, I realized that there were 2 Gulfstreams. I assumed that once I saw the first one go by, I was clear. When the second one came just a minute or two behind him, I was caught by surprise.
1) If you are not sure about where other aircraft are, or if it is safe for you to turn base, ask the controller for help! Since this experience, I have asked the tower to call my base a few times. I'd rather be safe than sorry!
2) Always listen closely to the radio calls. This helps you to keep track of where other planes are in relation to you.
I've done about half of my 25 hours during the night. Personally, I enjoy it. The air is usually smoother, there is less traffic, and the view is great! I also find it much easier to spot traffic.
However, flying at night does offer it's share of challanges. Per-flight takes longer, and it's easier to miss something you would normally find in the daytime. Emergencies are harder to deal with. Just where did that wide open field go that I saw on my last lesson? And judging distance is a new adventure as well. My first few night landings I either flaired at 25 feet or 2 feet!
Overall, I think flying at night is great. Enjoy the sights, and bring a good flashlight!