Latest in the series on IFR flight. Carlo and I are completely in the dark.
Friday the 13th, last April. Guess what we decided to do?
Yup. We flew at night! 😀
We left Omni at 1745, another Omni airplane hot on our tail trying to beat the sunset.
The dust comes from Capt. Ben’s secret weapon, but that’s another story.
Our plan was to depart VFR, join the Standard Instrument Departure for Subic, fly the ILS approach to Subic’s runway 07, and land.
Then we would depart Subic on an instrument departure, fly on instruments at dusk to Clark, shoot an ILS approach to runway 20L and land.
We did it all.
All the pictures are video captures from Carlo’s camera. We did a quick 20-minute flight to the Subic VOR. I flew the Instrument Landing System to runway 07. At 5 miles from the runway we were at 1,800 feet, localizer and glideslope needles nicely centered, descending 500 feet per minute. Stabilized 🙂
Decision altitude was 350 feet. Three minutes to go.
At Subic’s runway 07 ILS, the localizer is offset 3 degrees, to avoid this mountain (the localizer is the radio beam that guides the airplane left and right to the runway).
So we are actually approaching the unseen runway at a slight angle. A perfectly straight approach would not clear the mountain.
Here, 1 minute later, we are at 1,300 feet, still descending 500 feet per minute. I am half a dot left of the localizer.
The four striper in the right seat is Omni instructor Capt Anton. I like these new Omni uniforms 😀
Still 90 knots, 500 feet per minute down, on glideslope, but that localizer needle is starting to wave back and forth. Now I’m half a dot right. I’m losing it.
“Piso-piso. Small corrections.” I can hear Kevin and Meynard nagging in my head. “You’re inside 5 miles, correct one degree at a time!” I am barely nudging the yoke now. Piso-piso lang.
Now I’m a full dot off, to the left again. Airspeed increasing as I also drop half a dot below the glideslope.
At least I’m damping the corrections – the turn coordinator looks calmer than in the previous picture!
Ok, 30 seconds later, at 850 feet, localizer and glideslope recaptured, descending at 90 knots and 500 feet per minute. Stabilized!
I just need to hold this for exactly 6o more seconds, and we will be at decision altitude. Then I can look outside and do normal things….
I get cocky and pretend to be bored, tapping the GS and CDI, saying that old gag, “Partial panel ba tayo? Sira na yata itong gauge. Hindi na gumagalaw….”
Cocky. “Are we partial panel? The gauge seems to be broken. It’s frozen….”
Out the side window, Carlo is capturing the approach on video. We are 2 white 2 red on the PAPI lights, right on glideslope.
Did I mention that the localizer is offset from the runway? At 400 feet, we go visual.
The plan is to do a stop and go — touch down, taxi back to the start of the runway, and takeoff on an instrument departure for the return to Clark.
We have 2 whites and 2 reds on the Precision Approach Path Indicator lights. Someone actually spelled this as “puppy” lights on another forum.
We are almost done. We balloon up to four whites on the PAPI as the flaps go down. Dang! Need to catch that next time.
Nice runway lights at Subic, huh!
We fly back to Clark in complete darkness, over some of the most rugged mountains in Zambales.
We fly the published approach, and shoot the ILS to runway 20L. The glideslope is out, so we stuff the nose down and get to MDA quickly.
Carlo spots runway lights 5 miles dead ahead and starts his video cam. We are at 1,800 feet and descending 500 feet per minute again.
We soldier on. 1,700 feet. Stable. Waiting for minimum descent altitude of 720 feet. This time the localizer needle stays put!
Approaching minimums, 100 feet to go. We are cleared to land. Lights of Dau town below. Localizer still nicely centered.
Carlo, looking out with the camera, can see the runway. I’m still on instruments.
Exactly at minimum descent altitude, 720 feet. I look up, but the flashing rabbit light has been reflecting off the windshield for a few seconds already. On the centerline and PAPI lights.
Fifty feet up on the altimeter, touching down in a few seconds.
This has been fun, if a bit tiring. No autopilots in this airplane, so we have been hand flying all the way.
My Dad once told me that driving at night is 3 times more dangerous than driving in the daytime. It may be worse when flying. There is no way you can find an off-airfield forced landing site at night, if the engine stops.
And it’s easy to get vertigo, even if you focus on the instruments. Especially if you focus on the instruments. I always find myself banking left, for some reason, if I don’t scan the artificial horizon every few seconds.
At the taxiway, trailing the “Follow Me” truck, we are told to hold at the secondary runway. That shadow about to cross in front of us, just to the right of the bright sodium light on the ramp, is a US Navy P-3 Orion.
Probably on it’s way to harass the Abu in Jolo with its electronic eavesdropping gear. It was cleared all the way to Zamboanga.
Another two instrument approaches for the old logbook.
Carlo and I slept in the car all the way home. Unlike in the airplane, we had a driver 🙂