The paradox of night flying—serene yet challenging—allures pilots and produces many fond memories. AOPA editors share their favorite night flights.
AOPA Editor Ian Twombly recalls a night flight between Ocala and Gainesville, Florida, in a classic Cessna 170: “The stars were brilliant, and neither of us said anything for maybe 15 minutes. The sense of expanse, combined with the rhythmic sound of the engine, smooth air, and feeling of suspension in the sky, was really powerful.
At night, the skies aren’t as congested, turbulence kicked up by daytime heating is diminished, and winds can be calmer, making for smooth flight conditions. And while the stars and moon create a dazzling display on clear nights, flying over cities can be just as breathtaking.
AOPA Online Managing Editor Alyssa Cobb flew over Los Angeles at night with the late John Kounis of Pilot Getaways for an unforgettable evening. “We transitioned through the LAX Special Flight Rules Area, flying right over Los Angeles International, almost a black hole in LA's sea of lights.”
It’s not just the city lights that can be mesmerizing, as AOPA Managing Editor Sarah Deener notes. “Returning from my night cross-country during training, I got to see fireworks at a nearby baseball field on the descent into [Maryland’s] Frederick Municipal Airport. It was an unexpected treat at the end of a long flight.”
Other times, flying at night is more utilitarian, getting you to and from your destination activities quickly. AOPA Senior Editor Jill Tallman joined the Ninety-Nines on a flight to have dinner at Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and tour a haunted house and corn maze for a fall outing.
Whether you want to break away from stresses on the ground and enjoy the smooth air and stars from a few thousand feet, gaze at city lights, or get a group together for a fly-out, plan your next flight to enjoy the treats that await at night and start making memories that will last a lifetime.
Share your favorite night flight memories in the AOPA Hangar.