Hi. Mi private pilots license also does not include night flying. But interesting is to consider when they define what is included. When having a certain number of instructed night flights
you are entitled to fly in the vicinity of an airport. Vicinity of an airport German definition is that you have to be able to see the traffic in the pattern of an airport.
When I did my flight from San Jose, CA to Phoenix SkyHarbour, I was able to see the traffic being about 1.5 hours from the airport. The night definition is that the night begins 30 minutes after sunset. So was entitled to do this night approaches as you can see the traffic in the pattern, on a large airport like Sky Harbour, and in the Southwest of the USA from very far.
But when doing these landing operations at a large international airport, shortly before touch-down you are flying into a black hole. Due to this on my first landing in Sky Harbour, I made an awful 3-point-landing making the plane jump 2 or 3 times. Fortunately, I was aware of how to react properly when this happens.
The second special experience is when you are taxiing on the runway to get to its exit and report "runway vacated" in a small plane like a Cessna Cutlass the lights
lose their structure. So I went to search for the yellow line on the left side of the runway until it curved into the exit. But this yellow line and the blue runway lights
are hugely distant from each other so I had to focus my efforts to stay to the right of the blue lights
but still being able to see the yellow line. Once I crossed the lines that mark that you are leaving the runway I could report back to the tower "runway vacated".
My second-night landing was when I did try to fly to an airport next to the "Grand Canyon". As the report of the airport said expect gain or lose 40 knots of speed on final I decided not to land and flew back To Phoenix.
What a wonderful experience. The landscape was already impressive on my flight to the Grand Canyon, but it was topped when I flew by night. First I was in contact with one center in charge while being above a certain altitude. Then this center passes you to one in charge below that altitude. Makes you feel like a professional pilot. Finally, this center did pass me to the tower of Sky Harbor. I was approaching from the north. Then, what controllers of large airports like they make you cross the airport midfield what ensures you stay away from the other traffic of the airport. You cannot imagine what a sight it is when you approach a large city like Phoenix by night. After he gave me its clear to land I was remembering my awful night landing earlier. When I did have the feeling that I was about to touch-down I did control the airplane so that all you felt on touch-down was the vibration
of the wheels turning. A Geman friend of mine that was on the plane with me was so impressed that he said he would fly again with me at any time.
One other fact I want to share is the importance to really dominate the phraseology of radio
communication and what Americans call to know the system
. On my first approach by night to Phoenix, I did confuse the last VOR with the ILS beacon.
So when switch
ing to what I thought to be the last VOR the needle got full to the right and stayed there. So I did a report I was not able to tune in the VOR and so tower did give me instructions
for the further approach. When you fly in from the west you fly over a mountain full of antennas and the red lights
on top of it. I felt very good being routed by the tower. Those of you familiar with night-flight and how to find the location of the airport know the rule of the black spot within the lights
of the city is where the airport is. Well, Sky Harbor has the terminal build
ing between its 2 runways and so Sky Harbor does not look like a black spot. So when the tower asked me if I had field in sight I did respond negative a couple of times until he reported that I was on the 45 for the runway. Then I finally saw the airport. Here is something that is the consequence of good radio
training. My instructor always said to report negative until you are really enabled to say affirm. So Tower knows when you are really able to report affirm. Do not be shy, it is your and others life!
The second time on that approach was when tower gave me the instruction: 3-60 to the right until further advice
! My teacher played the role of the tower and one of the things he said to teach us the right behavior was to stay silent and fly as instructed until tower contacts you again. I do confess I had never done 3-60s neither by night nor during the day! So I put the plane into a standard curve, kept it there, watched my altitude and speed. Being so familiar with this instruction from the tower I felt "at home" and this being relaxed was very useful!