10/6/2015 This was a straightforward flight with one primary goal - satisfy the requirement for three solo takeoffs and landings at a towered airport - and one secondary goal - chip away at the rest of my simulated instrument time.
Preflight, runup, all normal. Then, my CFI has me put on the hood as I taxi into takeoff position. "I'm going to have you do an instrument takeoff." Even though I've never done one, this actually sounded fun, which surprised me. I'm usually anxious when trying new maneuvers or concepts in the plane, especially when I'm not expecting them. But then again, I need to be prepared for when I'm not expecting to be flying in IMC and suddenly find myself in the situation, so I felt eager to face this challenge.
Except that it wasn't. I have to admit, I actually found it fairly easy to keep the plane going straight down the runway relying only on the HSI as a point of reference.
Once we were in the air, still under the hood, I turned South to head toward OWB, and kept turning, and turning, until he asked me if we were staying in Huntingburg. I corrected, then intercepted the outbound radial from OWB and proceeded inbound.
Once we were near OWB he had me take the hood off. I called Owensboro Tower, advised of my intentions, then entered downwind for runway 36 as instructed & received landing clearance shortly after. I flew the pattern, landed, then taxied back. I did 2 more takeoffs and landings with him in the plane, communicating with the tower as my CFI coached me to stop talking so fast - an issue I still struggle with. I then taxied to Mid-America Aviation & dropped him off.
It was getting dark. I was racing the sunset to get these takeoffs & landings in legally, but I continued, making sure before each takeoff that the sun was still above the horizon, which it barely was as I completed my third and final landing at OWB. I taxied back to Mid-America, picked up my CFI, then called up tower (which handles ground at this time of the evening) to obtain taxi clearance. A quick runup and mag check at the hold short line for 36, then I called up tower to obtain takeoff clearance.
After takeoff, he had me flip the hood back down & continue with more instrument work on the way back to HNB, tracking the VOR outbound & making changes/adjustments on the GPS along the way. I struggled a little at first keeping on course as the lighting was less than ideal, making a couple gauges difficult to read, but I settled the needles down and trimmed for cruise.
"Boy it sure is beautiful up here tonight. Too bad you can't see it!" CFI humor. Gotta love it.
Once we were closer to HNB, it was off with the hood, making my radio calls, then entering the pattern for another night landing. Having only done 3 night landings before, this was still something new to me. I tried to focus on flying the numbers and staying ahead of the airplane. Key word there is try. I came in high and a little slow. After some reminders, I managed to get the plane down for a halfway decent approach & landing. I taxied back, shut 34Q down, then we put her in the hangar & cleaned off the bugs before heading in to debrief the flight.
All-in-all it went well. I have a tendency to chase the needle during hood work, but I'm improving.
For the next flight, I'll be tackling several remaining requirements at once with my CFI. Plan is to complete the night cross-country requirement, heading back to CUL, where I'll also get in a few night landings before heading back to HNB to get in the remaining landings. This should also take care of my remaining 3 hours of night flight. If the flight goes as planned, I should then only have a few hours of solo time and .7 hours of simulated instrument left. We'll also do a brush-up flight or two in between to polish up my maneuvers.
It's getting closer than I thought, and the push is on to cram for the oral exam. I'm expecting to schedule my checkride sometime in early November, just in time for Winter weather to arrive...
Two Victor Uniform, clear of Two-Seven.