John & Anne Wiley

2010/11/04

Night Hawk

Our Q bird is a rare variety of Skyhawk, and after sunset she was a night hawk. Flying quietly and a bit higher than usual, we wandered the skies offshore in wordless wonder.

3150 Sunset Afterglow

3150 Sunset Afterglow

Though it’s dark on the ground, aloft there’s still light and a colorful horizon like this one beyond UCSB. Over the harbor, the SBCC stadium is a pool of red and green at the right edge of this pic.

3163 Harbor Night

3163 Harbor Night

Any slight glow from the sky is mostly blocked by the Mesa, so the harbor found night first. A moment later we enjoyed a twinkling view past Stearn’s Wharf up State.

3164 Nightfall Up State

3164 Nightfall Up State

Dark as it seemed, there was still some great color in the skies out over the islands.

3179 Channel Island Twilight

3179 Channel Island Twilight

We lazily cruised around looking at this and that, with a detour most of the way to Carp. Once it was fully dark we headed reluctantly home to SBA, passing over the harbor now looking quite different.

3264 Dark Harbor, Bright Stadium

3264 Dark Harbor, Bright Stadium

Though it had been just over a month and thus not needed until Christmas, we decided to update my “night currency.” Most of the 4-some years I’ve had a license, I’ve maintained that by doing three landings to a full stop every three months. It’s always beautiful, and most often we do it on a full moon for extra light and beauty. Often we’re the only plane flying, except sometimes an airliner coming or going. Well tonight it was like a beehive! There were three and one time five other small planes, plus those occasional airlines all swarming around the airport. Another thing I like about night flight is how easily we can spot other planes, so it was an unusually fun time to be doing those “stop and go” landings (you land using the minimum amount of runway, stop, then take off again).

There seemed to be a new ATC trainee manning the tower, and one of the planes “in the pattern” wasn’t responding crisply, so one time I over-ruled the tower and circled to keep my distance from the hills he’d directed me toward. Pilots have the ultimate say when safety is an issue, and though it wasn’t ever dangerous my preference was to keep well away from the unlit hills rather than annoy anyone up there enjoying the quiet. Because the controller wouldn’t let us use the long runway, my last stop and go that went a bit long due to having circled left me with less than 2/3 of the runway for takeoff. I was glad to be in Tripp, because by the time we reached the end she’d already lifted us to a safe 500 feet and was climbing at 1,000 feet per minute. We had the propeller dynamically balanced today, so she flew even more sweetly and smoothly than usual. In all a delightful evening. Oh what a glorious way to invest $100!

Addendum by Anne:     Once again, these photos give only a smattering idea of our experience flying above and around this beatific cityscape at twilight, with lights twinkling below and shimmering afar.  These visions are coupled with the gentle floaty motion of the our steady steed, providing the dreamiest of feelings, splendid! I feel so incredibly grateful in this space and time, it is incomparable…

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