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jppilot97
Topic Author
Posts: 21
Joined: Thu May 03, 2018 12:52 am

Night Rating Anxiety

Mon Jun 29, 2020 8:19 pm

Hello everyone,

I’m currently obtaining my night rating and preparing for my first solo. My instructor said I’m all good to go. However, I’m just super anxious about flying alone in the dark. There’s just something about it that frightens me. Any great advice in being more confident flying in the dark will be appreciated.

Thanks in advance!
 
dinot
Posts: 19
Joined: Sun Oct 19, 2008 5:56 pm

Re: Night Rating Anxiety

Mon Jun 29, 2020 8:31 pm

Focus on task at hand. Aviate, navigate, communicate. Maybe a couple sim flights to get used to the atmosphere?
 
peterinlisbon
Posts: 1759
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2006 3:37 am

Re: Night Rating Anxiety

Mon Jun 29, 2020 8:48 pm

It's just something that you have to get used to. Tell your instructor you'd like to do some more dual practice at night before you fly alone. Don't feel pressured into doing something that you're not comfortable with.

It can be a bit scary at first, but on the other hand some things are easier. For example, there is way less traffic and you can see the shape of towns and cities from the lights, but on the other hand you can't see mountains, deserts, lakes or the sea and airport runways can be quite hard to distinguish from the surrounding roads.

One flight I took from Calexico to Los Angeles, felt strangely like being a passenger on a commercial plane because I couldn't see anything that I had seen on the way down. I knew the mountains were there and then the desert but once I saw Calexico and the border towns disappear behind me there was nothing but black for about an hour. Luckily I knew I was way above the height of the mountains at about 8000ft and I had 2 GPS, otherwise I think I would have been scared. When I got close to some airfields I saw the beacons from far away and I turned the runway lights on and off just to confirm my position. But it really felt a lot like being a passenger.

When I got closer to LA, I was looking out for the lakes just south of the city but I couldn't see them, until I realised that the lakes were the black area with no lights and I could just about make out their shape from the houses around the edge on one side. Maybe one thing you can do is not venture too far from populated areas or fly on nights with a full moon and clear skies, because at least then you'll be able to see some of the terrain. The sensation of landing is also quite different because it's harder to judge your height above the runway. I had the feeling of sinking into the runway and not knowing exactly when I was going to hit the ground.
 
deebee278
Posts: 99
Joined: Tue Oct 10, 2017 8:14 pm

Re: Night Rating Anxiety

Mon Jun 29, 2020 9:05 pm

Generally speaking, start with some pattern work on a moonlit night, then go from there.
 
N766UA
Posts: 8303
Joined: Thu Jul 29, 1999 3:50 am

Re: Night Rating Anxiety

Mon Jun 29, 2020 10:42 pm

Flying at night rules. Traffic is easier to see, the air is calmer and the weather has usually died off... you can pick up trucker radio on your ADF. Relax and enjoy!
 
TonyClifton
Posts: 145
Joined: Thu May 14, 2020 3:19 pm

Re: Night Rating Anxiety

Mon Jun 29, 2020 11:01 pm

I absolutely loved night flying in general aviation. Calm weather, pleasant temp in the summer, less traffic.

First, having been in the student and instructor shoes, if yours says you’re good to go, you’re good to go. No reputable instructor I’ve come across pushes an unready student onto something like this without being 100% confident they would be okay. Trust your skills and remember a little bit of concern is good and keeps you humble and level. Don’t let it derail you, but just being aware and cautious is far better than bold and reckless.

Understand the nervousness 100%. Take some time with your instructor to get comfortable and take an extra lesson or two at night if you so desire. Practice with them some things like landing with no nose light, and going to smaller less lit fields. Doing the weird stuff with an experienced body next to you helps tremendously. When I did my night work, we knocked it out at a small podunk field with minimal lights and distractions. Got me really in the zone and focused. Helped it was also an isolated area so the worst case scenario of an off airport landing meant plenty of open fields. Have them ride on one simulating whatever you want to do, and have them not say a thing or teach, just ride as a “safety pilot”. Once you start doing it and getting in your groove without them coaching, you’ll build the confidence in your aviating.

Good luck and have fun! Nothing I enjoyed more than calling it a day with my students, then taking the plane up for a few solo laps at night to cap the day.
 
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airportugal310
Posts: 3601
Joined: Sun Apr 11, 2004 12:49 pm

Re: Night Rating Anxiety

Mon Jun 29, 2020 11:34 pm

TonyClifton wrote:
Understand the nervousness 100%. Take some time with your instructor to get comfortable and take an extra lesson or two at night if you so desire. Practice with them some things like landing with no nose light, and going to smaller less lit fields. Doing the weird stuff with an experienced body next to you helps tremendously. When I did my night work, we knocked it out at a small podunk field with minimal lights and distractions. Got me really in the zone and focused. Helped it was also an isolated area so the worst case scenario of an off airport landing meant plenty of open fields. Have them ride on one simulating whatever you want to do, and have them not say a thing or teach, just ride as a “safety pilot”. Once you start doing it and getting in your groove without them coaching, you’ll build the confidence in your aviating.


THIS 100%...doing the weird stuff at night helps build confidence.

Hell...I once mistook a lighthouse for the airport beacon at night flying into Nantucket (ACK) and quickly learned that lesson fast!!
“They bought their tickets, they knew what they were getting into. I say, let 'em crash.”
 
saab2000
Posts: 1232
Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2001 6:19 pm

Re: Night Rating Anxiety

Mon Jun 29, 2020 11:48 pm

Get a few more lessons. Don’t do anything you’re not comfortable doing until you’re ready. Plan for the flight, even if it’s a 15-minute hop across town and back. Proper preflight planning......... you know the rest.
smrtrthnu
 
visual8L
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu May 05, 2016 8:17 pm

Re: Night Rating Anxiety

Tue Jun 30, 2020 12:29 am

Great post and even better answers thus far.
No alpha top gun responses just good encouragement and quality anecdotal advice.
Good luck!
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XRadar98
Posts: 74
Joined: Sun May 01, 2016 4:23 am

Re: Night Rating Anxiety

Tue Jun 30, 2020 12:42 am

If you need or want ATC service, be sure to let them know your status. You will always get better service, rather than calling and missing calls because you are busy trying to do your thing. They will be more understanding, knowing you are already uneasy. Just please say something when traffic is issued, and SAY something when you get a traffic alert. If you don’t want or need ATC, or it’s not in your area, keep one eye out for lights in the sky.
 
DevinR
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Jul 21, 2008 6:17 pm

Re: Night Rating Anxiety

Tue Jun 30, 2020 12:49 am

I actually preferred to fly at night. Usually air traffic was light and winds were calmer. I know it's not much advice but just some pros of flying at night.
 
FlyingViking
Posts: 62
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2005 12:16 am

Re: Night Rating Anxiety

Tue Jun 30, 2020 4:16 am

The second you tell ATC you're a Student Pilot you'll get all the help you need. I used to use Microsoft Flight Sim for any flight I was going to do. It helped a lot.
 
jetwet1
Posts: 3147
Joined: Thu Jun 14, 2007 4:42 am

Re: Night Rating Anxiety

Tue Jun 30, 2020 7:47 am

jppilot97 wrote:
Hello everyone,

I’m currently obtaining my night rating and preparing for my first solo. My instructor said I’m all good to go. However, I’m just super anxious about flying alone in the dark. There’s just something about it that frightens me. Any great advice in being more confident flying in the dark will be appreciated.

Thanks in advance!


I would be far more concerned if at this point, you were not nervous, Tony Clifftons post up thread is some very good advice.
 
bourbon
Posts: 153
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2015 3:35 pm

Re: Night Rating Anxiety

Tue Jun 30, 2020 10:01 am

N766UA wrote:
Flying at night rules. Traffic is easier to see, the air is calmer and the weather has usually died off... you can pick up trucker radio on your ADF. Relax and enjoy!

What’s an ADF ?! :)

Flying at night is very peaceful. I personally fly higher at night to give me more reaction time in the unlikely event of an in flight emergency.
 
ORDJOE
Posts: 682
Joined: Wed Aug 11, 2010 2:27 am

Re: Night Rating Anxiety

Tue Jun 30, 2020 11:01 am

Nervous at new thing is normal but if you dont feel confident yet dont do it just yet. Take a few more lessons go out on fully moonlight nights. Dont do anything your gut is telling no. Its perfectly fine to.say im not quite ready and need more practice
 
User avatar
zeke
Posts: 14896
Joined: Thu Dec 14, 2006 1:42 pm

Re: Night Rating Anxiety

Tue Jun 30, 2020 8:07 pm

jppilot97 wrote:
Hello everyone,

I’m currently obtaining my night rating and preparing for my first solo. My instructor said I’m all good to go. However, I’m just super anxious about flying alone in the dark. There’s just something about it that frightens me. Any great advice in being more confident flying in the dark will be appreciated.

Thanks in advance!


One way instructors can build confidence with students is by pushing their abilities further. For night flying doing partial panel circuits in a PCATD or even the aircraft builds confidence when everything is working.
Human rights lawyers are "ambulance chasers of the very worst kind.'" - Sky News
 
spacecadet
Posts: 3552
Joined: Thu Sep 20, 2001 3:36 am

Re: Night Rating Anxiety

Wed Jul 01, 2020 5:44 am

There's nothing much to worry about in flying at night vs. flying in daytime except for buildings and terrain. Everything else is actually easier to see. For buildings and terrain, just look at your charts and maps ahead of time and be sure to note anything near your flight path worth worrying about.

I fly in mountainous terrain at night. It can be a little freaky the first time going to an unfamiliar airport, but a good glass cockpit helps. I'd be a little more hesitant without that, but sectional and other charts are still perfectly good if you don't have that, just as long as you know exactly where you are. Using an EFB on an iPad or even a phone is a perfectly adequate substitute if you don't have a glass cockpit.

If you're flying to an airport you've been to, which I'll bet you are if your instructor signed you off, then just do what you've always done. Stuff looks a little different at night but you'll quickly realize that you can actually see most things better. Traffic, for example, is much easier to spot. So are airports, with their flashing beacons (assuming they're on). And there's usually a lot less going on, so it's less hectic.

Be aware of weather. As long as you've got good visibility, you're good to go. If you've got clouds anywhere, don't feel bad about canceling and waiting for another day.
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