Once More, Into the Breach

Over the last two weekends I’ve tempted fate by doing some day-to-night transition flying into the goose… my first solo night flying. With any other airport night landings are a non event to me… no more or less difficult than during the day… but goose creek is Not any other airport. The runway lighting consists of twenty 40 watt lights in glass jars along the 2300′ x 35′ runway.. there is no beacon… and it is only lit all the way down on one end… so no matter what the winds are doing you have to land 22. Trees obscure the end of the runway when you are on final… so you have to keep it a little high until the lights are revealed.. then drop it in at a pretty steep angle. The first time out I was in the 152 and ended up going around 3 times to get a setup I was happy with… I kept flying too tight a pattern and ending up too high. Last night I was in the archer and ony had to go around once… had a perfect setup the second time.

This week I’ll be starting work on a pilot controlled lighting switch for the goose.. this will allow the installation of a beacon and lower the operating costs of the airport which might result in better lights. Commercial units are out there of course… but I believe I can build one for far less.. using a basic stamp microcontroller and a few supporting circuits. It will be fun learning about these.. it’s been a long time since I did any electronics work. If this is not too difficult.. I may also try to build a better beacon… one that is solid state using very hight output LEDs.. there may even be some commercial possibilities here.