If there's one thing that I can attribute to flying, it's that THE most relaxing experience I've ever had in my life was during a night solo that took place between flight lessons toward my comm'l certificate.
The training lessons were pretty demanding, and I had finally reached a point in the training course that allowed for a well-needed break which consisted of a few night solos in succession of one another. The first night solo was fun, but since the training syllabus required staying in the traffic pattern to complete 10 takeoffs and landings (coincidentally while doing so with 7 or 8 other comm'l students at the same stage), there still wasn't much time to relax.
The second night solo, on the other hand, was amazing. This time, the training syllabus allowed us the freedom to wander the entire local practice area (including visits to the satellite airports). Even before arriving at the flight line for check-in, I knew that this flight would be one to remember; The sky was clear, the stars were shining, and the air was dead calm.
I decided to venture to the north practice area since most of the dispatched traffic chose the south. I'd practice a few maneuvers at my own pace, head for a few turns at Ormond Municipal, and then make my way back to Daytona.
With the walkaround complete, I hopped in the 172 and proceeded with startup. She purred like a kitten
Taxi-out was unusually care-free for Daytona, and takeoff was just the same.
Onward to the practice area. It was right about this time that I reflected on how serene the whole experience was unfolding: The air was as dead calm as on the ground, not a glimpse of traffic as far as the eye could see, and the practice area channel was so quiet that the only sound running through my mind was the song "Echo" from Incubus (which seemed to perfectly set the tone for the flight. If you're familiar with it, you'll know what I mean)
With the maneuvers complete, I set a course for Ormond. Two in the pattern, as heard over the common traffic advisory frequency. Runway 8 was in use, and considering that there wasn't even enough wind to blow out a candle, that was fine with me. Entered on a 45, continued through Downwind, Base, and Final. Seeing as how I had just completed 10 consecutive landings the previous night, there shouldn't have been any reason as to why I wouldn't grease this one. Needless to say, I didn't let myself down
The other few patterns were just as uneventful, and a quick check of the clock showed that it was just about that time to wrap things up. On the last takeoff I notified the remaining few that this would be my last, and I proceeded to the southwest to join I-95 southward for an arrival into Daytona.
With ATIS received, I made my initial callup to Daytona Approach. As it turned out, I would not be #1 for landing: Approach advised me of traffic to my nine o'clock, one thousand above, two miles, a Delta MD
-88 westbound on downwind for landing. I'd have to say, an MD
-88 only a thousand feet above you, at night, while in a 172, was quite thrilling! Needless to say, he completed a downwind, base, and final, long before I ever completed my extended base from Ormond for a short final (all while allowing enough time for wake turbulence separation).
So there I was, back home in Daytona. It's too bad that I was only allowed the amount of time I had; I wish it didn't have to end so soon (I'm paying for it anyway, right??)
But, nevertheless, I had the time of my life! No instructor watching and criticizing my every move, no turbulence to beat me to death, no 90-degree heat, no constant threat of a mid-air, etc, etc, etc. Just me, my 172, and an entire practice area to myself
"About the only way to look at it, just a pity you are not POTUS KFLLCFII, seems as if we would all be better off."