Night Flying Tips?

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Night Flying Tips?

Posted by John Munn on Nov 6, 2017 10:31 am

With darker days upon us, now is a great time to get some night flying experience in your logbook. Do you like to fly at night? Any advice for flying in the dark? Share your tips and best practices! 

When I fly at night, I find that allowing your eyes to adjust to darkness certainly does help. I bring along a flashlight with a red light and I thoroughly consider the terrain that I'd be flying over before taking off. 

I have some great experiences night flying, such as the Hudson River corridor in New York City. What a sight!

Happy fliyng, aviators. 
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Re: Night Flying Tips?

Posted by Nicole Applegate on Nov 7, 2017 10:10 am

Night flying holds the spots for most terrifying and most exciting flights I did while training for my private pilot’s license. Once when taking off east from Ocean City airport KOXB, I was not prepared for the shear blackness of the night sky. With the ocean being just as dark, there was no horizon and I quickly felt disorientated. I was surprised (not surprisingly) that I couldn't "feel" my attitude and I had to rely on my instruments to climb out until I could turn back towards the lights of the mainland.
Another night flight experience was much better, as I encountered fireworks! From the sky they looked much more round then they appear when viewing them from the ground. Also, I tip my hat to anyone who makes the extra effort to put their holiday lights on their roof because those are really fun to see as well. 

Re: Night Flying Tips?

Posted by Claire Urban on Nov 7, 2017 10:30 am

I know I can't wait to see the world from an aircraft at night. I can only imagine as a student pilot the first time that I have that chance. 

Question, does the light from the panel make your eyes fatigue on longer flights?

Re: Night Flying Tips?

Posted by John Collins on Nov 7, 2017 11:10 am

If you had a chance to go to the ASI Fly By Night safety seminar, it had lots of good tips throughout to help intrepid night flyers. If you're in the Fresno Area the last showing of this seminar is tomorrow night from 7-9 pm at the Doubletree Fresno Convention Center, 2233 Ventura Street, Fresno, CA. Otherwise you can go onto the ASI website, and it will be posted in the Safety To Go section in January.



Re: Night Flying Tips?

Posted by Ronald Levy on Nov 7, 2017 2:32 pm

Claire Urban:

Question, does the light from the panel make your eyes fatigue on longer flights?

Not that I’ve ever noticed in about 1000 hours of night flying.

Re: Night Flying Tips?

Posted by Bryan Boyle on Nov 13, 2017 10:28 am

Claire Urban:
I know I can't wait to see the world from an aircraft at night. I can only imagine as a student pilot the first time that I have that chance. 

Question, does the light from the panel make your eyes fatigue on longer flights?

You will be astounded and in awe of what you can see.  Amazing.

If you don't have the lights bright enough to illuminate the moon you won't get visual fatigue.  It's a matter of having them bright enough to see the details, but not so bright that it washes out your view to the outside.  I prefer flying with post lights at about 3/4 brightness (when the plane is equipped with such) and the overhead red light up about the same level.  I've found it a good balance between seeing what I need to see, and being able to get the visual picture. 

Just me; you have to find the proper illumination level that is comfortable for you balanced against being safe and able to control the aircraft properly.


Re: Night Flying Tips?

Posted by Doug Wietbrock on Nov 14, 2017 5:12 pm

I hated night flying during my PPL training. I swore I'd never fly at night again. Six months later, my CFII forced me to fly the final leg of a long IR XC at night and I realized that it didn't bother me anymore. Of course, "being under the hood" removed the fear of not seeing outside! But a few months later I found myself flying another long leg at night in VFR over very rural (and a very dark) Texas. My IR training had removed all my doubts and fears. Not seeing any visual reference points just didn't bother me.

I also use an ADSB-In device (Scout) to help with situational awareness. And I use Flight Following.

Switching Foreflight to night mode also helps. As my eyes become accustomed to the dark, I continue to turn down the lights. I end up at about 33% light intensity in the cockpit for most of the cruise. I brighten them a bit for approach and landing. No, I haven't noticed eye fatigue, but I try to move my eyes from inside to out to iPad a lot.

Although I'm still a new pilot (180 hours and counting) I have the opinion that night flying should almost be considered IMC and that more instrument training would be desirable. I think that, if I hadn't continued on with IR training, I'd never attempt night flying over rural areas with minimal visual references.

Re: Night Flying Tips?

Posted by Cary Alburn on Nov 20, 2017 10:20 am

After several hundred hours at night, 99.9% in SE, I have several “rules” I like to follow:
  1. Don’t fly at night when there is less than a 5 degree temp/dew point spread.
  2. When landing, stay above 400’ AGL on final until close enough to land without power.
  3. If available, use the VASI/PAPI or even the avionics glide slope indications to assure not descending prematurely.
  4. Try to stay within gliding distance of highways and airports.
  5. Rely on the instruments to maintain situational awareness, especially on take off over unlit terrain.
  6. Keep the instrument lighting turned down.
  7. Carry extra flashlights—I have a mic light on my headset’s boom mic, a glove light, plus two 2-D cell flashlights, a lighted kneeboard, 2 penlights, and a couple of LED flashlights, and I’ve used them all at one time or another.
  8. Try to avoid any bright lighting for half an hour before takeoff.
  9. If haze or clouds are encountered in flight, immediately extinguish all strobes and landing/taxi lights—they will quickly destroy night vision.
  10. Use oxygen at lower altitudes than normal, which will enhance night vision and reduce fatigue.
Finally, if the engine quits at night and it won’t restart, set up a normal glide to the apparently best place to set down; as you get close to the ground, turn on the landing light, and if you don’t like what you see, turn it off. :)