Night time safety

Thursday, November 01, 2018 1:19 PM | John Kurfess

Good afternoon everyone,


Before I get into the details of an event that happened last night, I would like to thank everyone that came out to vote last week, and I thank you for voting for me in as the chapter's VP. I am excited to be able to help in a administrative role with the chapter and look forward to moving forward!


Now, onto last night...


For those of you that do not know me, I am a student at BGSU's flight college and currently in the first half of my instrument/commercial flight training. As a result, I do a lot of cross country flying. On my way home from Grand Rapids Michigan last night I had experienced something that I consider extremely odd....


According to the flight briefer before the flight, their was foretasted to be a low hanging cloud layer starting over top Toledo and heading south-westward cutting between Bowling Green and Findlay which would form while I was en route to Grand Rapids. My instructor and I get to Grand Rapids with out a problem, turn around and head back to Wood County. As we cross into Ohio we can notice that cloud deck over top Toledo and pointing towards BG area. Wood County AWOS was reporting Visibility as 10 (with somewhat low hanging clouds,) while Toledo Executive was reporting Visibility 4 and very low clouds. With the thought that those clouds over top TDZ were on their way down to 1G0, our goal quickly became to land while we had visual flight conditions. We were able to see the beacon light at this point and decided to cancel flight following and soon made our initial call 10 miles out. 


It was at this point when we had a surprise.


Someone on the ground was pointing an extremely bright spotlight on the left side of the aircraft. 


At first I thought we were about to have a midair and that bright light was simply a landing light, but after being blinded and the entire cabin lit up, I squinted my eyes and looked off to the left side only to notice that in the middle of the dark field was a spotlight. After about 5 seconds, the light turned off and we didn't see it again. 


Even though this situation did occur, my primary focus was still to get the plane to the airport before the weather moved in. Since that was the case I simply had to allow my eyes to readjust to the darkness of night and continue flying the airplane. I soon made another radio call saying that we were 5 miles out, meaning that this incident occurred between 5-10 miles north of 1G0. We eventually landed at Wood County, avoiding the incoming weather.  


While taxing back to the hanger my flight instructor and I make the decision that I would contact the Wood County Sheriff, but they suggested me to contact the Toledo Tower. I gave the tower a phone call and they made a report of it.


The reason I am writing this is because either we have some guy that likes to shine lights at airplanes during night time, or maybe it was a deer hunter searching for  his kill and thought it might be fun to point a light at an airplane. Either way, it is still a very dangerous situation and I wanted to get the word out to other pilots that my be flying at night over top the Perrysburg area soon. 


Hind sight is 20/20, and if I could go back and correct my mistakes I would have contacted Toledo Approach immediately and told them the situation so they could track my position at that location, and/or recorded my Latitude and Longitude position and report a exact location myself. 


Hopefully none of you guys have to worry about anything like this in the near future but if this does happen to you make sure you contact the nearest approach or call the tower after landing and report it, but most importantly make sure that your flight is safe and continue to safely fly the airplane. If this is someone who likes to blind pilots then that person must be brought to justice, a situation like that could kill someone if it is not taken care of soon.


- John Kurfess, EAA Chapter 582 Vice President 

Comments

  • Thursday, November 15, 2018 10:30 AM | Scott Hiser
    How long was the wing lit up?
    Link  •  Reply
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