I just did my first real solo night flight after training. Our plane just got out annual last week. I did a few hops around the airport after pulling it out of his hangar and then a I did a 150 mile daytime cross country to just fly and make sure all was good. Fast forward to last night - a perfect time to try this first solo night flight. Winds calm. Nice temp/dew-point spread, no clouds or fog and a full moon. So I planned a 185 mile night cross country. I landed a uncontrolled airport, two Deltas and back to our uncontrolled airport. I took off after civil twilight and landed about 2.2hrs later. Even though I was tired afterwards, this night flight was all done and back home before 10pm So there's a advantage to fall/winter flying: So lessons learned: Budget another 10 minutes or so to get ready for the night flight. Mainly for lights/gadgets. I usually place one red LED light on my harness and I use one of these tiny LED lights clipped onto my headset. Like a mic light but cheaper and better but takes time to get it just right. Don't mix go pros and a first solo night cross country together. The other part of the extended pre-flight was setting up the cameras and making sure everything was working. Well, matching settings and formatting flash cards takes a while. And then I find out the smart remote is dead. So I plug it into our cig lighter... Don't just assume you can plug anything into the cig lighter with no ill effects. Now I have always charged my android tablet in flight from the cig lighter and no side effects. But this little wrist sized go pro remote. Well, it wreaked havoc for the radios. Since nobody was out flying in our area last night the Unicom was dead quiet. Dead quiet means I hadn't heard anyone on the radio until well after takeoff. So I switch to approach for FF. Each time he talks the squelch stays broken for like 10 seconds. I can hardly understand him. I just about key my mic to say: "Hey center are you having radio problems...". I think again..IDIOT..its not him...ITS ME! If it was him everyone would be complaining. So I take a few seconds and think: what has changed??? This little remote thing being charged? Yank it. That wonderful old KX155 radio is back (I love the sound of KX155's). So for my first time I have experienced some nasty radio noise from a cheapo USB gadget. Where do I emergency land!!! I couldn't help but notice how during the day I am naturally looking for spots and now, within minutes, all by myself - no instructor - finding a spot to land has become pretty eerie. Actually I start thinking my best bet is to just go for water so I don't hurt anyone else. And water to my east is totally lit up by the moon so easy to see. I really need to think more about a night emergency landing and how to pick a place...if there is even a way. Once we have snow cover (my last real night flights with the CFI) it just seems so much easier to see options. I kind of like that busy FF radio chatter. It is so peaceful at night. However, knowing center can talk to you at any time does keep you rather awake and alert. And listening to other advisories always helps fill in the picture. How did people fly at night without GPS?? Seriously, down around the Twin Cities it is lights everywhere. I should make myself do a night cross country without GPS just once - I bet I would learn so much. Really big runways at night wreak havoc with me. One runway was at least 100ft wide and 7000ft long. I swear I flared about 5 ft high. My eye just jumps to that landing light location on these larger runways. I actually did really good on speeds during landing. Previous short night flights taught me that I am likely to fly it a bit slower than normal. So I was watching this like a hawk and I think that really helped out a lot. I should have been more proactive regarding pattern altitudes and the ideal altitude turning base to final. I know its easy to just say "Be 500agl as you turn base to final. But when a pattern is like 923ft and things are moving fast it takes an extra second. Next time I am going to write down TPA and the base/final altimeter value. I think that will make me stick to it and strive for it because during the day we can see the ground and go a bit by feel. But not at night, at least not for me. Parallel runways and night could really trip up a person. So I have already bumbled a wrong runway at this same airport so I know what to expect. But I could see someone landing for the first time really getting this wrong. The first thing you see is a ILS all lit up beautifully and this nice long, wide runway. But my assignment is the tiny one just left of it and it starts over 1500ft farther down, narrow, etc. I wonder how many people at night would not even see the small one as its so easy to focus on the big one. I think it was a good experience for when I land at night at a new-to-me airport with parallels. I would be mostly likely to received the smaller runway. Having runway extended centerlines is nice (see above). I completely botched airport entries on the base leg. For both Deltas I was asked to enter on the base. I just felt the airport was so close so I flew it out farther. Only to realize I am really flying like a weird, arcing 45 degree'ish to the runway. In this case I needed to trust the tablet more and just aim for an exact 1 mile base instead of getting so fixated on the sea of lights and trying to see the runway end lights. Forgot to close the cowl flaps on my final leg home. It still pretty warm up at altitude (above freezing) but that's a rookie mistake. It is so dark in the plane I can't even see the knob. Some tablet settings can really be bad. So I have automatic safe taxi turned on. But the tablet thinks I am done flying below a certain speed - but the plane is still flying And So am I! So all of a sudden, just as I cross the numbers and flair the safe taxi diagram comes up. Its a white background and so bright. So I just tell myself "Do not 'f with it and land." You can be that setting will be turned off tonight when I have time to review things. Now for a Garmin Pilot "I hate that moment." I am probably one of the few who fly with a non 4G tablet. So I have no data available once I leave the house or FBO. And our tiny airport building doesn't have WIFI. Back at home before I left I opened it up to make sure it was charged. Good. Lets go. Now fast forward to the actual flight. I start up the plane. While its warming up the iPad Mini 4 starts up and running GP. I then start the android (it will be my backup). It stops on the screen saying it needs to download 37MB to complete an update. #%^%$^^ - If you are reading this Garmin...do not do this. There is no way to overcome this screen. So that tablet was useless. So my phone was my backup (at least you can have it 3 places now instead of 2...probably because of this. I almost called my flight because of this! But I had VOR's, FF and a backup. I was cleared into the Bravo once and denied the other time. No big deal but being cleared in does let me fly higher over the city which I would have preferred. For example, with Bravo entry I was allowed 5500 but without it I was at 3900 (100ft under) and I was asked to go down to 3500. I am very glad that I forced myself to commit to FF and getting comfortable with Bravo transitions early after getting my license. They are super helpful and until about 10miles from the destination, they are tracking you. During the flight I wasn't as tired I thought I would be. But when I got home my brain was fried and I feel asleep in the chair. I was always watching the horizon, trying to get a feel for where it was obvious and not obvious. With this much city around it wasn't bad but when I flew home, away from the Twin Cities and away from the moonlight there were a lot less farm lights and city lights for a reference. I am also working on flying with my CFI at night and would have this night but schedules didn't work. But I knew I had the skills and everything was working so it was time to learn instead of contemplate. Oh yeah, Chinook Helicopters hovering near the runway look pretty cool at night The gopro footage looks okay, but more grainy than I expected (bummer). I think for great night video a person should use a DSLR with a f1.8 or f1.4 lens. I'll try that another time when I am riding along. Being a dad and married, I really liking the idea of the In-Reach with some automated tracking. My goal was to text my wife at each stop but I forgot one. Since each leg wasn't really that long it didn't matter. But something automated sure would be nice. The tach time was about 2.2 hours and I burned about 23 gallons so not too bad for over 2hrs of night flight in the 182 with full stops everywhere to also get night passenger current. Next step for me is to knock out a night time 100 mile leg or maybe even a 150 mile leg night cross country. And maybe fly away from the city where it is more dark. Depends on weather.