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Night Flight September 9, 2008

Posted by skywalking1 in Uncategorized.
Tom with Sky Walking editor John Ross on an earlier Diamond flight

Tom with Sky Walking editor John Ross on an earlier Diamond flight

Last night was a beautiful September evening, with thin high clouds and mild breezes. Needing to practice night landings for future instrument flying, I took off in the Diamond DA-40 from Leesburg Airport just at sundown. I could just glimpse the fields and farms below me as I headed west from Leesburg, over Purcellville, and on to the dark mass of the Blue Ridge. With just a few lights glinting off the Shendandoah River, I got in two landings and an ILS approach at Winchester, then dropped in at Martinsburg to touch-and-go alongside the hulking C-5 Galaxies lining the parking ramp. My landings were actually more gentle than my last round in the daytime!

I finally returned to Leesburg on a GPS approach just after 9 p.m. local, settling onto the brilliantly outlined runway and taxiing in to a quiet airport. I was the last pilot to tie down my plane and head back to the parking lot. The flight was a perfect end to a nearly perfect late summer day.

Although I was usually traveling no faster than 110 knots, the flight reminded me of the many night flights over West Texas I enjoyed in the back seat of a NASA T-38. I can only contrast my exhilarating mission last evening with what the P-47 Thunderbolt pilots of the Hell Hawks experienced every time they strapped on a P-47.



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