Peace and Quiet at 1,200 MSL

12:15 PM

I had one of those airplane ownership moments recently, one of those special times when the joy of being sole owner of your very own flying machine washes over you like a 50-footer chasing down a longboard at Mavericks.

On the way home from a meeting, the OAT was unseasonably warm for an early July evening the Pacific Northwest..so much that I had the window of my truck most of the way down. As I eased out of Eugene's downtown towards my home just on the outskirts of town, I began to notice that the sky was crystal clear, not a cloud to be found anywhere on the horizon. I also noticed the wind was 0000KTS, the perfect night for a flight:

Prior to my recent night landing when my CFI-I and myself landed back at KEUG when delivering 8527W up here from SoCal, I had not done any night flying in years. I cannot blame that night flight draught on anything but my lack of wanting to arrange a rental plane after hours. But now, as a sole owner, I get to reap one of the finest benefits of owning a plane – you do not have to "arrange" anything, there is nothing to schedule. Not that renting is bad, it is not. The place I was renting from was a great flight school, and I recommend them highly. But of course, due to insurance requirements, I would have had to go up and get a "night checkout" in order to do a few laps at night around the patch. So just to get current, I was looking at a couple of hundred bucks. So I remained a day only VFR driver until I bought 27W.
After making the "go" decision, I blasted through my house, grabbed my flight bag and jammed the 10 minutes to the airport – and yes, living 10 minutes from my hangar is truly golden. After swiping my TSA-approved badge to get in the gate, I slid open the hangar doors, and there she was waiting to go play, Cherokee two-seven whiskey, a.k.a. Katy:
KEUG was deserted at 9PM, and as I taxied out, I immediately remembered how suck most GA landing lights are as I almost taxied straight onto the grass. After following that HUGE yellow line to 16L, I screwed in the throttle and 27W launched skyward into the clear, still night. I was about to enjoy the view when I realized that with 235 ponies pulling me and that monster Hershey Bar lifting me, you get to pattern altitude in no time. I pulled power, spun in some nose up trim, and set up for a nice stable downwind and final. After a decent arrival, I flew one more lap, and planted 27W back on the runway with a "no chirper", one of those landings you remember – one that is so sweet, you don't even hear the wheels touch down. Yes, this was a landing any pilot would love to brag about.
I had forgotten that night flight was truly wonderful. Just me and Katy up there dancing across the perfectly still night sky, the lights of Eugene sliding by under her belly. I love how well this new KEUG runway is lit up at night...an arrival at a commercial Class Delta patch at night seems like you are in your own airliner, it feels important.

This, my friends, is freedom.

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