Jim has me close the hangar door over while he taxis around to the pumps for fuel. I watch him start the plane, then lean on the button as the door slides down. A short stroll across the grass and I'm joining him by the aeroplane. He finishes the fueling, stows the hoses and we climb into the aircraft. There's a technique to this; left foot on the step, right foot on the wing root, stand on the wing. Right foot onto the seat cushion, grab the handle overhead, slide the left foot down towards the rudder pedals and lower yourself onto the seat. Once we're both installed, close the canopy most of the way and start her up.
By this time, the sun is a few fingers' width off the horizon and the lights in the town nearby are coming on. They twinkle amongst the long shadows below as we ascend. There's a few thin clouds off to the west and a layer of haze below, as we pass through 2,000 feet. The temperature drops, too; as though someone had turned on an air conditioner; welcome relief. We climb another couple of thousand feet over towards the lake, which gleams with the reflected warmth of the late evening, only matched by the polished aluminium of our wings.
It's beginning to get darker now, so Jim points us back towards the field and we descend. Feel the heavy warmth of the lower air hit us at that 2000 foot boundary again. As we approach, Jim takes delight in turning on the runway lights with a few clicks of his microphone switch. He brings us round through downwind and base until we're looking into a pathway of green lights. Gently down; fly her onto the tarmac. Squeaks from the stall warning horn and the tyres announce our arrival. We roll out and turn onto the taxiway, heading back to the hangar.