Flying At Night

In this episode Jason will share with you some things he does when preparing for a night flight

News and notes
I want to share the with you guys real quick. Once again, our 2013 Oshkosh schedule. This is the first year we are going to be exhibiting. We were gonna be up there exhibiting at Oshkosh. We will be up there all week. A great chance for you guys to come by and say “Hi” will be right inside Hangar B literally. You are gonna walk in and see us right in front. Just a little bit right of center. You will see us there so really excited about that. That’s Hangar B all week. With that,we are speaking again. Everything FAA wings credit approved. Basically we own form pavilion #8. Larry Diamond who helps me out with all things
Our presentation 8:30 am on 5 Easy ways to fly safer.
At 10 am. I am doing my classic “How to handle Inflight Emergencies”.
And 11:30 am. I am sharing with you guys the Secret to Perfect Landings.

The seminar of now the best selling book by the same title “The Secret to Perfect Landings.” You guys are the reason it’s a best seller. We are very thankful for that. We are doing the presentation or seminar. Sharing that. And of course we’ve team up with AOPA as well. We are hosting the Good Pilots Gathering. We’ve team up with AOPA with a bunch of great pilots who really live out that good pilot is always learning mantra. Eat together for food, drinks, social aviation, lot of fun, prizes to be given out and a lot of really cool stuff. Again we’ve team up with AOPA to make that happen. We are really blessed to have them for helping us out on board. No charge. No ticket. That’s 6:30pm to 7:30pm in the Nature Pavilion. Really works out well too cause the airshow the main airshow ends like 6 and nothing until 8 when the night airshow starts so we fit in right in between the airshows. We are going to be hungry and looking for something to do and that’s gonna be really great in regards to that. So that’s it for a little bit of news. If you want to see the schedule just visit homepage.
Flying at night
I want to share with you guys really what I do. Preparing for a night flight. Concerns considerations. Certain things that I do that I just been long habit that I have learn from experienced and all. Preluding to that with a story. Those of you that are private pilots or studying to be a private pilots. Know that you are only required to have three hours of night time dual. So you are with an experienced instructor. Three hours of dual night time before you can become a private pilot. Usually constitutes two flights. Usually you go up and you do ten take offs and landings to a full stop that counts as one night usually and one hour. And you have to do your night dual cross country with only last probably around two hours.

Most People divide up into two night flights. I have a few crazy student that tried to do night. Try to do it with them all ten landings and their long cross country landings with 10 different airports with 150 nautical miles away. In between as well, needless to say we got certainly more than required three hours to get. It took forever and of course we did it on summer time where it doesn’t get dark until 8oclock. We are out like in two in the morning. It was not enjoyable. I am very much an early bird. I tried to be in bed early. So the point in bringing that up is I don’t think three hours is enough. And here’s why. I did my three hours. I was that classic one flight, ten take offs and landings. The other flight, do my long cross country. Really spoiled both times and end up having a full moon one night and one in another night. We really enjoy that. Almost full moon and certainly a full moon. So spoiled in regards to that. I became a private pilot still with my 3.0 maybe 3.1 hours of night flight and I had to do a flight to Tallahassee. It was not only my first night flight. It was also my first long cross country flight and didn’t done anything that long. So I was maybe a little out of my league and in my long cross country flight was my 150 nautical miles cross country had to do with my private pilot certificate so going to Ocala to Tallahassee was quite a treak for a 40-50 hour private pilot but whatever reason I had to do it anyways and we got up and we left early in the morning. I made it. It was good 8 or 9 in the morning flight. Winds fairly calm. Got up there real nice. Everyone in Tallahassee is very friendly. Got up there for what we up there for. A little meeting and sure enough that meeting run along. When I say run along. You know, I want to be flying home around like 1 or 2 oclock and try to beat that afternoon thunderstorms will it went longer than that. I am talking five, six, seven o’clock. We went out to dinner and before we know it the sun was setting. And I’m realizing, we are going to have a night flight here. I didn’t plan for a night flight. I ain’t have any flashlights with me. All my checkpoints were like, you know, silly things that I won’t be able to find at night like lake and stuff. Of course the one night I do it. It’s a no moon night. Now for those of you understand Florida geography. Picture myself flying back to the pan handle Tallahassee area back to central Florida where I am base at. I got the gulf of mexico to my right. Not a light out. There are no boat out there. Of course in between Olcala and Tallahassee is hardly anything just woods for good of it. There are wood out in front of me. There gulf of mexico in my right. I remember doing the whole flight and say to myself “Trust your instruments, Trust your instruments.”
I felt like I was flying into a black hole. I have studied all about spatial disorientation, the Coriolis illusion and the leans effect. And all of these sort of stuff. I’d read about it but I have never experienced it till literally I felt like I was turning into a lad. I felt like I was descended. Then I felt like I was a clogging right turn. By looking at my instrument. No, Jason you are flying straight well. Everythings okay. You know to boot this was aircrafters equipped with the 530. I had no idea how to even dim the screen down. The screen is on you know like classic Florida 12 o’clock in the afternoon. Highest contrast and you can still hope to see it’s so bright out. Well on night time you have no problem being bright. I can’t even figure out how to dim it so really playing with my eyes so I couldn’t figure that out. Literally have the person who is flying with me. Hold my sectional chart over it. Because it was too much and then you know I look at real quick to make sure it’s still on course and I haven’t pulled away. It was just that and it was tough. I literally when I got into the plane.
I don’t even know how to turn the lights on. The captain light, the cockpit’s light, my instrument lighting because my previous night flight. My instructor kind of spoils me and help me with that. I was with no means preparing night flight and that’s why I am sharing with you guys. First plan in driving home is always being prepared for a night flight. You may leave in 8 in the morning like guided and plan to be home earlier but you know the weather plays a different role. Things happen that your meeting runs long. You would know what could happen. Every flight you should be prepared to taking a night flight because that is always the possibility when you go to meeting and go to different things or you could go out having a hamburger and end up having a flat tire when you come back from a restaurant. Next thing you know it’s getting darker, darker and darker. Although you gave yourself plenty of buffer in your mind. That flat tires slowed you up for not having repaired. Now you are flying at night.

Always being prepared in flying at night. By talking about always prepared. You should have not one flashlight maybe two but certainly three flashlights. I know I may sound crazy guys but batteries dies. Funnier things have happen certainly one that has flashlights needs to be our classic aviation red light to really save your eyesight when flying at night. Having those flashlights. Having all your basis covered your back up handheld radio, back-up GPS some sort really being prepared for the unexpected because night flight can be one of those unexpected moments. One thing I realize of my night flight. When preparing for with no night flight we should say is to slow down that preflight inspection too. I always tell students always slow your preflights down when it’s night or when it’s cold. Because when it’s cold out. All you have to do is get that airplane real quick fired up and pull that cabin heat on. That’s exactly what you want to do.
At night time you are prone to miss things. You should be out and doing your preflight with the flashlight and checklist in hand. You should never cease out when doing a preflight without a flashlight. I don’t care if you are a left hangar. That lights don’t reflect underneath the wings when your checking aileron engine and everything else. You should always be out there with the flashlight when doing your preflight at night.
Another concern when flying at night. It is this is to raise your personal minimums. Guys flying at night is not forgiving. You need to raise your personal minimums flying at night. Because we all know at night time that temperature at due point can sneak in real real close I mean how many times especially this time of year. You wake up it’s fog in the morning. Why is it fog in the morning? Well because the temperature at due point. The temperature decreases it gets closer to due point. All due point is that the temperature at which that moisture is already in our air becomes visible. That’s what you get our morning fog that you see so often. That step creeps in when you are flying at night.
When you are flying at night. It’s not easy to spot those clouds. I bet you theres a dozen people listening to this live right now that have invertedly probably flown a cloud or too close to a cloud. When flying at night because it’s just hard to spot a cloud at night. You just don’t see it . You can listen all the information you want and read all the information you want. But we all know that some where they say the clouds are where really end up aren’t the same thing and it’s easy to invertedly flying to a cloud. Night is really not forgiving. Always teach student to when you are doing a no night flight. Flying actually a night cross country is a due thing to follow roads. I am a big fan always having a way out. If you told me right now. Listen Jason were going to a night flight over the mountains. I would turning that oppurtunity down, I’m sorry.
Day flight over the mountains? Sure, yeah I’ll take that. Be sure to be prepared. But flying at night over the mountains? Just something I am not interested. Listen I know some of you don’t have a choice and you may have to do that. I will tell you right now. You just better be prepared. More than prepared. Learn everything you can about mountain flying. Have more enough things in your flight bag if something happens that you are prepared. This is just being real guys. This is nothing you can find in a book or anything like that. This is real world flying sort of stuff which you can’t find in a book. Night flying you need to always leave yourself a way out. I tell students they always make the funny joke. I fly IFR. IFR stands for I FLY Roads. I know it’s a silly joke but at night time that’s what I basically do. You know it’s not always the direct route but if I got into a pickle at least I’ve got a place I can go. You know you’ll hear a lot of people talk and these bugs me, this really really bugs me.
When I’ve shared this with those of you seen my presentation live on How to Handle Inflight Emergencies. I’ve talked to this. Sometimes people ask “Where do you go at night?”. I heard somebody says another flight instructor says “Oh, man. You always go to the darkest area” . That’s where you make emergency landings. Darkest ares? Your darkest area could be trees, could be water. You could be lucky it could be the perfect field but who knows what’s in that field. Where the power lines are? Where the fences? Where the animals out there sleeping? You don’t know this sort of stuff. You got to go to the lit area and really that’s a tough spot to find yourself in but you always got to be prepared. I teach the follow roads at night or maybe airport to airport if they are close enough and get enough altitude to be in _16:07__ distance to each of them. But certainly follow roads and guys. I really mean it when I say raise your personal minimums. I’m talking, literally these are my biggest things when I’m flying at night. I’m not doing a night flight unless it’s clear. And you know when we get spoiled a lot of times at night. It doesn’t end up just clear, cloud was nice, you can see the stars. Those are the nights that I do enjoy. Night flyigng is awesome. It’s smooth, peaceful, the radio relatively quiet. Night flying is real nice time to fly. I tried to fly in those nice times. You know I’m not a big fan on like Hard IFR flying. Anyway though I don’t think your IFR raid in this _16:50_. Thinking of approach down to 200 foot decision altitude in Cessna 150. You know that’s just not my idea of a good time.
I am not a big fan of IFR at night. You just not leaving yourself a lot of options if something were to happen. We are not trying to be not right now. At least some of you maybe professional pilots. You know what? When you are that professional pilot. Those airlines have the training, have the systems. Those aircrafts have the system to help all of that situations but for now in General Aviation. I am saying raise your personal minimums and play it safe. You know when flying at night.
Larry chime in here and said his students learn to use peripheral vision basically and you guys realize that we use our peripheral vision when flying at night. I don’t want to get into the whole medical aspect of that but typically when your scanning for traffic at night you are actually fixing your eyes straight ahead and use that peripheral vision to help spots stuff in the sky.
You know really 10 degrees at a time working throught that sort of stuff. He also shared lf you have passengers to tell them. You can take pictures but it won’t gonna come out very well. But certainly no flash because that flash let the whole cockpit turn everything off and brings to another point too. I am not a big fan in using, you know, if you are IFR at night in the clouds certainly turns those cockpit lights off. You know on the wing tips that makes light very difficult on regards that.
And Larry lastly said listen. Night flying needs to be respected. Night flying is just about like flying IFR and really is you’ve got to trust those instruments. It is so close to actual IFR flying. Super super important in regards to that.
Steve chime in via Twitter. Steve keep in mind flying in Canada. Steve is someone who sent that great video you guys saw of him landing in Toronto and he said the private pilot does not cover night flying in Canada. It’s an additional rating to be night endorse . He said he fully agrees that night flying is tough. Yes, Steve you are exactly right. I kinda like how they do that Steve. Treating night flying almost like an add-on. Imagine just like we have a complex endorsement or high altitude endorsement that sort of stuff. Hopefully I am understanding that correctly. That makes perfect sense.
I really believe that 3 hours is not enough. Yes they send you in a cross country. Yeah, they make you ten take offs and landings but guys it’s not enough. I mean you got to be real with it. The ten landing and they expect you to land at night. That’s like saying “Okay, let’s go ten day landings and solo you”. Yes, I mean it’s a liitle different you do have an aspect of flying but the cite picture if there is an incite picture they are so different.
Learn to fly at night is really tough. It needs more than just the basic 3 hours of the FAA requires. So that’s what I am getting at. I mean you guys just the fact that you are listening to this. You know tells me that you truly live out that a good pilot is always learning mantra and you are going to go above and beyond with your night flying stuff and make smart decisions in regards to that. Larry also shared one thing and if anybody on the line. Probably we’ll wrap it up.
A recent Aviation accident reports shared that commercial fixed wing and night BMC. So night flying nice condition. 27% of the fatal accidents due to fuel management. Fuel Management is such a silly way to have an accident. Because it is totally most of the time unless you got serious problem pilot error. I always tell people. It’s funny cause my wife makes fun of me. I am not a big fan of pushing it in a car. I’ve never run out of gas in a car. When that gas light comes on. I mean I let the gas light come on. When it’s get like half-full. You know I am gonna be pulling at the gas station. It’s all my car. That’s just how the aviation has introduced that to me. So I am getting in her car. She drives all around town with the gas light on. That freaks me out like I just I don’t enjoy that. You know what I mean?
In aviation the same way. Listen, I see the tanks are in half-full and start thinking “Okay we need to be getting in the ground soon and fill in this stuff up”. The only time we had too much fuel is when you’re on fire. An economical way to remember it but isn’t that the honest truth? The only time you had too much fuel is when you are on fire. I mean, honestly, split those legs up. There’s no reason you flying one giant long leg when you can split it up, stretch to your legs and fill up that airplane. Use that after whatever it takes.
Good comments from Steve and Larry. Thank for sharing those. I really appreciate it. If you want to earn free wings credits. Please become a member and go to Learn more and check that out. Get access to those webinars and great stuff inside.

That is all I have for you today. Enjoy the rest of your day. Most importantly remember that A Good Pilot is Always learning. Have a great day guys see ya!

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