Topic Author
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First Night Flight

Sat Jan 17, 2004 1:06 pm

Is this upcomming Thursday. What can I expect? Thanks.
23 victor, turn right heading 210, maintain 3000 till established, cleared ILS runwy 24.
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RE: First Night Flight

Sat Jan 17, 2004 1:48 pm

Are you referring to a commercial flight or a GA flight?
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RE: First Night Flight

Sat Jan 17, 2004 2:10 pm

You can expect it to be dark.

Hope that helped.
Topic Author
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RE: First Night Flight

Sat Jan 17, 2004 2:29 pm

GA. I was just wondering about the differnce, like i hear that landing is much differnt. I knwo I am not sopose to see bright light 30 min prior to flight.
23 victor, turn right heading 210, maintain 3000 till established, cleared ILS runwy 24.
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RE: First Night Flight

Sat Jan 17, 2004 2:39 pm

Your nice smooth landings will go away for a while until you get used to the night landings. Its fun, I've always enjoyed night flying. Just make sure your high enough above all mountains and hills, they are kinda hard to see at night  Big grin
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RE: First Night Flight

Sun Jan 18, 2004 12:25 am

Traffic is much easier to see.

Landing for the first few times can be tricky because there's not much you can see moving by that's not in your landing light's area. Just remember to look down the runway and that will help immensely.

Make sure you have an extra flashlight because I wouldn't want to be flying along and then have to rely only on the interior lights, which sometimes are not all working.

Also make sure you check the exterior lights during the pre-flight inspection.

I like night flying a lot, it tends to be smoother at night and it's fun to go over a large city like Boston or New York in a little plane at night.

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RE: First Night Flight

Sun Jan 18, 2004 10:09 am

I recently got my night rating, and I really like night flying.
Much less traffic (and easier to spot it), smoother air and great view if you have clear skies, then the moon and the stars make the landscape clearly visible.
You should keep your eyes from bright lights at least 6 minutes before takeoff. The eyes can get pretty well adjusted in that time, and in about 30 minutes the you should have good night vision.
Goboeing makes a good point, always bring a flashlight (and preferably spare batteries).
The most important thing is that you know everything about the optical illusions that occur at night, and know how to counteract them. E.g. Scanning the skies with the corner of your eye and not fixating on a single source of light.

Before your flight you should review the procedures in case of a com. failure and be sure about the temperature-dewpoint concept. (If you have any more questions, feel free to contact me)
Happy flying
Muhammad Ali: "Superman don’t need no seat belt." Flight Attendant: "Superman don’t need no airplane, either."
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RE: First Night Flight

Sun Jan 18, 2004 11:15 am

Be aware of certain visual illusions at night, especially away from major city lights. For example, stars can be confused with ground lights, making it impossible to tell where the horizon is. Second, when approaching a road or string of lights at an angle, it's easily to confuse that false horizon with the real horizon. Next, it's easier to misjudge the glideslope due to sloping runways. Finally, it can be impossible to see mountains or clouds, so be sure you know where you are at all times. Be sure that you fly standardized patterns by the numbers and avoid straight in finals if possible. Personally, I believe you should be instrument rated and equipped before being allowed to fly at night, but that's my opinion.
Last year 1,944 New Yorkers saw something and said something.
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RE: First Night Flight

Sun Jan 18, 2004 2:42 pm

Hi NWA, Buzz here in cloudy Vancouver Wa. When i got my first few hours of night flying (for the private ticket) my Instructor had us start just after sundown. We left Evergreen Airfield (non-tower, 59S) and flew to Troutdale (Class D airspace, towered) just after sunset. So as the sun went down we made some full stop landings on the 5000 foot runway in The Mighty Cessna 150. That made life easier, since stuff was in familiar places as it got darker.

As the other guys have mentioned, you can see other traffic better at night.
I had a couple hours of hood time before we left, so i was somewhat comfortable under the hood.

The pit lights are marginal in a 1975 C-150. I had a LED light i was able to hang on a jacket pocket to better illuminate the panel - bought it at Wal-Mart! A little clear blue-green tape and it's OK.

The hardest part was landing back at Evergreen: a couple rows of 60 watt bulbs for runway lights, no VASI, and the landing light had failed. So we flew the standard pattern - keep things as standard as you can, touch down around 2nd or 3rd runway light so you don't land short in the dark. Oh yes, Evergreen is surrounded by houses and small businesses... lots of visual confusion. I hope you're night ride is easier.
And it's one time i was glad i wasn't flying a taildragger - i didn't land as straight as i have to in a Cub or a Champ.

Oh yes, it's fair to ask for Flight Following!
Let me know how it goes, off-line

Buzz Fuselsauage; Line Mechanic by night, DC-3 Crew Chief by choice, taildragger pilot for fun.
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RE: First Night Flight

Sun Jan 18, 2004 8:36 pm

The first couple landings are kind of frightning, you really can't see the ground below you and most people have a tendency to flare way too early. The best way to combat this has already been mentioned by a few on here. Get your eyes out of the cockpit and look down the runway. Also, it's a good idea to have a flashlight with either a red or green filter on it. My mini-mag light came with a red lense, it does a great job. My instructor bought this neat little LED thing from Eddie Bauer and took a red marker to the lense, I think I may do the same. Those two colors do the least to affect your night vision.

Now on to the fun stuff, I prefer flying at night. They sky is usually much smoother and visiblility is better. You can often make out towns that are many miles away by the pattern of their lights, they look just like they do on a sectional. If you're in a rural area it isn't uncommon to see the glow from a big city that may be over a hundred miles away. The most important thing is to relax, and have a good time.  Smile
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RE: First Night Flight

Sat Jan 24, 2004 9:05 am

I just had to respond when I saw the title of the post. Afterall, it is my screen name!

Night flying is incredible. Usually, there is not as much traffic, the radio's are a little less hectic, you can see your destination a lot easier...There are many reasons why quite a few pilots (including myself) prefer night flying. Just wait until you see a distant thunderstorm off you wing!

My personal favorite night flying moment was flying in IMC in a Baron. We entered the rain/soup soon after takeoff. During our climb, we suddenly broke out on top to see a clear, peaceful night sky which the full moon was brightly lighting up the clouds below.

It's moment like these that remind me why many of us love to fly.


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RE: First Night Flight

Tue Jan 27, 2004 5:18 am

Generally, 30 min of no light is a good rule, but that figure can be somewhat subjective. For instance, if you're flying around a major city like I do, there's always going to be lights around anyways, and if you have a crystal clear full moon, you can practically read by it. Just another thing to keep in mind. Also, when the moon is out it can be helpful in spotting clouds. Just don't go thinking that clouds will light up in "Where's Waldo?" colors in the moonlight, there will be subtle accents to the clouds if you spot them at the perfect angle. Of course, if there's significant clouding at the altitude you choose to fly, which should be higher than normal, you probably shouldn't go anyways. Also remember, if you have an engine failure in flight you can't just go landing on any ol' field. If there isn't an airport around, you're going to have to somehow spot an empty road or someplace you know you can land. If the "field" is dark, it could feature rugged terrain or water. Just a couple of thoughts. Also, try a couple of landings with no landing light, that'll be tough at first. If you're really up to a challenge, try a landing with no light and dim airport lights. There's always that possibility where both your landing light and radios fail or your whole electrical system fails, so unless you carry a spare radio and/or a damn bright flashlight, practicing these types of landings can be useful in that situation that will "never" happen.
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RE: First Night Flight

Fri Jan 30, 2004 5:35 pm

For night flying, bring a flash light because your life will depend on your seeing the instruments.

Night flying will bring its own set of new sensations, things you never suspected existed in aviation. It's hard to explain in words, I'll give an example.

The airport of my town has a runway along the shoreline, with a pattern that takes off "into" the sea. On moon-less nights, where the sky is black with no stars, the right turn-out after take-off has a new meaning: you literally turn into blackness, complete blackness as if the plane is parked in a closed room. That gives a totally new dimension to the instruments because they become your only connection to reality. The first few times I had my eyes literally glued to the altimeter, ASI, etc, along with a slight feeling of suffocation and fear. If this situation will ever present itself you will understand what I mean.

Also, during training I had to go out west over sea (3Nm off shoreline) and, as I was flying around in total darkness as usual, I noticed some kind of gradual changes happening around me, not sure what, just visual changes and some bounces. I looked carefully and discovered that the area of blackness that was somewhat darker than its surrounding was... a cloud! Then I noticed the strobe lights reflecting from the left and the right and I discovered I was wayy inside it. No way to know in advance..
Since clouds were few and scattered, it didn't take long to get out, but just to tell you that night flying is different.
Finally, flying over well-lit cities is definitely a marvelous sight. I once had to extend my trip over Jounieh, a city that offers a beautiful bay, and had to hold pattern above it while commercial traffic made its way. It was some experience. These trips, when done alone without instructors, definitely offer invaluable experience and confidence to new pilots.

You must have your flight by now. Hope it was good!

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