When it comes to flying, nighttime is one of the best times. The thermal turbulence subsides and the winds calm down, revealing a starry sky and a smooth ride. Night flying can be an absolute joy, but for many people, particularly those who don’t do it very often, it can also be a source of anxiety. This is especially true for those who don’t fly at night very often. And as for the rest of you, you should make it a habit to review the fundamentals of night flying at least once every so often. Even frequent fliers can be guilty of forgetting certain aspects of night flying from time to time. To make sure that your upcoming night flight goes off without a hitch, here are some helpful hints.
Prepare For The Future
The importance of proper preparation for a flight cannot be overstated. It is important for any flight, but there are a few additional things to consider when flying at night, such as remembering to bring flashlights; two are preferable to one because you never know if you will drop the first one and it will roll to the back of the aircraft (spoken from experience). When your batteries run out in the middle of a flight, rather than fumbling around with replacing the batteries, it is much simpler to just pick up a new flashlight that is fully functional rather than having to worry about finding extra batteries.
When it comes to planning a flight at night, there are a lot of different factors to think about. For example, you should modify the way you plan your VFR route when flying at night. Alternatively, if you have the necessary training, you might think about flying in instrument meteorological conditions. Also, prepare for any potential emergencies that may arise, as the process of an off-field landing at night will be very different from how it will go during the day.
Don’t Forget The Rules And Regulations
Because they are so preoccupied with flying, a lot of pilots forget about the rules and regulations. Flying at night is subject to certain regulations, such as the requirement to maintain a fuel reserve of at least 45 minutes and to be up to date to transport passengers. The following is a rundown of some of the more significant rules and regulations that pertain to night flights.
Confirm The Business’s Hours Of Operation And Availability
At night, many of the flight environment’s operational aspects, including fuel availability, air traffic control closures, hours of operation for FBOs, runway lighting, and approach procedures, all change. Before you take off, you need to make sure that you have checked the NOTAMS and the procedures.
Be Aware Of The Lights
Before embarking on a night flight, you should become familiar with a variety of lighting systems, including those that are used for aircraft lights, airport lights, runway lights, and approach lights. When flying, do you plan to keep in mind the times when your position lights must be activated? Some people might find this to be an obvious question, but will you? Do you have any recollection of the appearance of the airport beacon at a seaplane base, a military base, or a civilian land airport? If there is a breakdown in communications, what will happen to your light gun signals?
Illusions Are Real
Nighttime illusions are common. The problem with illusions is that you might not realize that you have been tricked by one until it is too late to do anything about it. Be wary of nighttime illusions that can cause pilots to become disoriented, such as the black hole effect, auto kinesis, false horizons, and even the constant flickering of the strobe lights.
Trust Your Instruments
If you have a Night VFR rating for instruments, trusting your instruments will come more naturally to you than it will to other people. If you don’t have an instrument rating, you’re going to have to put in more effort before you can put your faith in your instruments. However, if you earned your private pilot certificate many years ago, you may have had very little or no instrument flight training since then. If this is the case, you will need to complete some basic instrument flight training to maintain your private pilot certificate. When traveling at night, it is essential to rely more on your instruments than the signals your body sends you.