Night IFR practice

Cirrus – SR22 – Archerfield – Warwick – Stanthorpe

Flying at night is not something I intend to do very much. It has quite a few additional hazards compared to flying during the day (like not being able to see the ground or unlit towers and antennas) and there’s much less to see so the obvious question is “why would you want to do it?” Well some think that it’s nice to see the city lights from above but my main reason to fly at night would be if I have to conclude a long flight at night every now and then so it’s good to stay current and practise flying at night. I have a night IFR rating so have to fly by instruments, which I think is much safer than flying night VFR. You can use the instrument approaches on many of the airports to make your landings safer but you need to practise these approaches at least once ever 6 months if you want to be good at them. So on 26th March 2019 I practised some night IFR skills with Adam Starr in “Edith” a Flight One SR22 G5 with call sign VH-EDH. Taking off from Archerfield after dark, we climbed to 1500ft and flew in the circuit overhead the field enjoying the lights of Brisbane until Brisbane Approach cleared us to climb to 8000 ft. Once above lowest safe of 2900 ft we tracked out via waypoint Huugo to Warwick.

Although we’d expected some cloud at that level it was clear all the way with just a bit of lightning down south of the border. High level cloud meant it was very dark though and I was having to rely completely on the instruments. Luckily the avionics and autopilot in the Cirrus reduced the immediate work load and allowed me time to focus on the tasks ahead. The first task was the RNAV for RWY 27 at Warwick via waypoint WCKEB and a missed approach.

Next was a short hop over to Stanthorpe and the RNAV for RWY 08 via waypoint SPEWG with a missed approach again.

Then it was back to Archerfield at 9000 ft, passing over Amberley on descent before joining the RNAV for RWY 10L via BAFWD. The autopilot was used to follow the approach and the glide path down to about 300 ft. Then it was a case of hand flying it onto the runway. The sophisticated avionics can make flying the instrument approaches a lot easier but you really need to spend time with someone like Adam to understand how to set up the system. Well worth the effort though.

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