Western727 From United States of America, joined Jan 2007, 579 posts, RR: 4 Reply 1, posted (12 years 1 month 2 weeks 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 895 times:
Well, I wouldn't use the term "without fear." I don't fly a single engine at night without caution. Then again, I try to be careful, competent, and safe in all flying situations.
I don't think night flying is something to be avoided. Granted, you do have to be a little more careful at night, but if you exersize good judgement, I don't think flying at night is something to fear.
It's sort of like instrument flying - there is more risk involved. But as long as you as you acknowledge your extra responsibility, and use good judgement, then you can safely accomplish it.
Iainhol From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 2, posted (12 years 1 month 2 weeks 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 876 times:
I agree 110% with Western! I happily fly single engine night, however I am a lot more careful from the get go! I read the squawks more carefully, and think about everything, I always get a last minute weather breifing, as clouds and mountains look the same at night! I take my time and do a very complete pre-flight, and my flight planning is a bit different, I always try and be in a reasonable distance from an airport, incase anything goes wrong. And choosing an emergency spot is very different at night, golf courses are not very good as you can not see the trees, I always had a some what empty freeway in mind!
One of my most memorable flights was back from Vegas in teh evening and when we came over the moutains and into the LA Basin, the view was brilliant. It was so clear you could see the coast, the traffic around LAX, and many other cool things! Also it is less busy at night, so you can normally get what you want. At SNA once I took off on 19L climb to 700 feet, and tear dropped onto 1L, which was wicked fun! I can not imagine being able to do that during the day! The only thing I would not do is fly over large bodies of water at night single engine (i.e. flights to Catilina).
Max Power From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 3, posted (12 years 1 month 2 weeks 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 859 times:
Iain, Ok, but something does not seem right to me. You say you are more careful when flying at night with flight planning being different? If you are going from a to b what does the day or nite have to do with it? Are you saying you are not as careful during day flying? I know the engine does not know if it is dark but if it quits how far can you go? Any open space would be unknown area and your landing light would only show you what tree or trees/rocks you are going to hit And where do you find empty freeways? One's I see are either all red (tail) lites for miles or headlights in the other lane. Don't you think if it quits you will be in a "World of hurt"? Gotta be a brave man to go S/E nite it seems.
Iainhol From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 4, posted (12 years 1 month 2 weeks 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 852 times:
The difference in the planning is becuase you can not detimine if the are is a suitable places to make emergency landings at night. During the day you can use open fields, golf courses, the beach, which you can see from quite some distance away, and see things like trees rocks, ect. At night you do not know where the trees are, if they are open feilds, or lakes, or a little hill.
The real of thumb if your engine quits is you should be able to get to the area of land which is just off your nose. At 10 o'clock at night freeways are not too busy, therefore you would merge vertically instead of horizontally! I have only ever had engine problems once, and it was when I was short final, so I was lucky!
Mikeybien From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 5, posted (12 years 1 month 2 weeks 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 851 times:
Maxpower, i agree totally with WA727 and Iain. You are correct when you say there are less places to land at night, but then again if you fly over any mountainous region in the day you're pretty much in the same situation. An important part of aviation is "risk management". Aviation will never be totally risk free. If you're so worried about your engine failing, why bother to step outside? you might get hit by a meteor! heck, if you're not going to fly at night VFR, you can forget about IFR. All your instruments might fail simultaneously! What would you do then?! The point i'm trying to make is anything is dangerous if you look at it with enough paranoia. The best thing to do is to reasonably judge the risk and prepare accordingly.
DG_pilot From United States of America, joined Sep 1999, 856 posts, RR: 3 Reply 6, posted (12 years 1 month 2 weeks 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 848 times:
I do a good amount of night flying. Lately I have been doing it for my Instrument training. Most people do their training in the day, but doing it at night has its advantages. It offers a more lifelike environment as far as IFR flying goes. It is also less crowded and cooler in the summer.
When I do fly at night, I have this necessary urge to check everything on the pre-flight several times. Sometimes I will finish looking over everything, and then go back to the top line of the checklist and do it all again.
All in all, Western 727 got it right. Night flying inheritantly has more risks, but the name of the game is managing those risks. If the pilot does their job well, everything will be alright.
Western727 From United States of America, joined Jan 2007, 579 posts, RR: 4 Reply 9, posted (12 years 1 month 2 weeks 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 839 times:
Another technique for night cross-country flying is to plan your route so you are always within gliding distance to an airport. This isn't always possible in less densly populated areas (such as my home state), but you could minimize the risk by planning your route to take you by as many airports as you can. If you zig/zag between airports, you won't really add that much distance to your trip, and you will greatly increase your safety margin. Also, another thing to do at night is fly high. The extra altitude will give you more gliding distance, more time, and more options.
Something I learned on my private checkride. The cross country I was assigned to plan was from Provo, Utah to Battle Mountain, Nevada. I planned the going as direct as I could. This took me over vast exanses of uninhabited land. The examiner suggested that in the future, that I plan my route over main roads and cities, so that in the event of a forced landing, I wouldn't have to wait for days in the desert for someone to find me, and therefore wouldn't be subject to dehydration and exposure.
I think that principle applies to night flying to. Altering your route just a little gives you a much bigger safety margin.
Western727 From United States of America, joined Jan 2007, 579 posts, RR: 4 Reply 10, posted (12 years 1 month 2 weeks 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 842 times:
As you may know, SLC is Class B airspace, but it is pretty laid back at night. Here's a typical clearance: "Cessna XXX radar contact, cleared into class B, resume own navigation..... wanna do some touch and goes?"
Iainhol From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 12, posted (12 years 1 month 2 weeks 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 834 times:
Western 727, Zig zagging at night??? If you miss a check point while zig zagging, you could find yourslef miles of course, and I am sure being lost at night is no fun! What I was trying to get accross with my reasonable distance from an airport was in gliding disatnce if the terrain below you is unsiutable for night landings.
The cross country I had to plan was from SNA to LAS, which was very simple you just followed the 15 most of the way.
You also have to be careful flying at night as oxygen is recommended at a much lower altitude (5000 feet) at night. So you have to be careful of that too!
XFSUgimpLB41X From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 3958 posts, RR: 36 Reply 14, posted (12 years 1 month 2 weeks 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 823 times:
I never fly at night without being filed IFR pretty much. Night flying is by far my favorite..but i always have both the GPS in the airplane and my handheld up and running for additional spatial awarness and just incase and engine fails. I have around 50 hours or so of night time..15 or so of that being in actual IFR. One thing is for sure...do not make the mistake of leaving your strobes on when you go through clouds at night...sheeeeeesh. I try my best to shy away from mountain ranges at night, dont have to worry about too many of those down here in florida though. In general, you just make sure the airplane is in the best shape possible before you fly it, and check very very carefully on the weather, even though it is much easier to spot thunderstorms at night.
I was from atlanta... man it was so hard to get clearance to do a touch and go in the ATL class B airspace. That airport is busy as all get out 24 hours a day. We went out there at 145 in the morning... took us forever to get an approach slot... did my usual 130 knot approach all the way in to landing flare (i run 130 knot approaches quite often just for the fun of it). Anyhoo.. thats all from my end of things.
Iainhol From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 15, posted (12 years 1 month 2 weeks 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 815 times:
XFSUgimpLB41X - I really enjoy night flying too, over 10% of my time is at night!
Reason I am posting this you went into ATL at 1:45 in the morning? I used to fly into LAX VFR at 5 o'clock in the afternoon (you know when the tower controller sounds like an auctioneer on speed?), I also went in the weekend before the Demoncratic National Convention, and both times I do not think I circled for more then 5 minutes, I also got straight in once!
I hear you on the 120 knot final, and you float 1/2 down the runway, my landings there where never very good, however I was happy to be down!
However I give you mad props for doing it at night! I would not have done it at night, as I can imagine the taxi/raunway lights being a mess, especially as we are not as high up us the airlines so all we see is a plethora of lights, not much fun me thinks!
Max Power From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 16, posted (12 years 1 month 2 weeks 6 days ago) and read 810 times:
You Guys are are a little "off". All the pre-flight prep. will not change a thing if it quits. I did this or I do that does not make any difference when push comes to shove. I'll bet none of you have had one quit so far....I'm not paranoid and I am not interested in "risk management" Hay, if there is a risk, I will wait till the sun comes up and fly day time and if need be log it as night. Ops! I just screwed up on the side of safety..
Iainhol From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 17, posted (12 years 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 800 times:
You are always safer, if you have prepared and thought about difficulties you might have during flight.
Night flying is great fun, and done with precautions that we have mentioned above, it is safe. Flying at night has many advantages, i.e. less taxi time, cool more dense air, pretty view, ect.
I also want to know how much you want to bet? On my phase III check a while ago, I was about 3-4 mile final and the instructor called go around (to see if I can do it) when I advanced the throttle, I got very little power, lots of vibration, and a horrible sound. I pulled the power back to idle, and advanced it slowly this time, and I experienced the same as before. I had the runway made, so I focused all my attention to landing the airplane.
Western727 From United States of America, joined Jan 2007, 579 posts, RR: 4 Reply 19, posted (12 years 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 790 times:
I'm gonna have to stick with my zig-zag/higher altitude theory, especially because I got it from the Jepp Private Pilot Manuevers Manual. It's something I read as I was reviewing for my BFR. If you have to use oxygen to accomplish that, so be it.
Western727 From United States of America, joined Jan 2007, 579 posts, RR: 4 Reply 21, posted (12 years 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 787 times:
See, using oxygen at 5000 ft is weird to us highlanders, because my front yard is 4500 MSL. I routinely ride my mountain bike at elevations between 7000 and 10,000 MSL. I guess you could say that I'm acclimatized. I suppose oxygen should be used if you are one who spends a lot of time at lower elevations, but none of my instructors ever worried about it, and we were flying at 7000-8000 MSL at night. Usually you have to go up that high during the day just to clear terrain. And there is no FAR (correct me if I'm wrong) that dictates the usage of oxygen at night for flight over 5000.
Iainhol From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 22, posted (12 years 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 779 times:
There is no FAR regarding oxygen at night, it is just a reccommendation. I used to live right by the beach so it is quite a concern for me.
I still do not like the idea of zig zaging unless you are very familiar with the area, checkpoints can be very easily missed, and you can find yourself loast very easily!
Mikeybien From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 23, posted (12 years 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 790 times:
Maxpower, If you're that worried about your engine failing at night, just plan a IFR (I Follow Roads) flightplan. Unless you live in an incrediblely remote area, there will be roads that go everywhere. On top of that, they make great night checkpoints.
There is the freak chance your engine might fail at any time when you're flying, but i will remind you almost all general aviation crashes are caused by pilot error rather than mechanical failure. Heck i bet there's been more deaths because of drunk pilots flying into moutains than deaths because of broken engines. I'm pretty sure most of the time too that most engine failures are caused by the pilot inadvertantly leaning the mixture too much or allowing ice to build in the carb.
Western 727, i too live in high altitude, and i have never had any problems flying as high as 13,000' (for less than 30 minutes of course) at night w/o oxygen.