Flying at Night

by Josh on March 25, 2012

For some, flying at night can be very intimidating, especially because the FAA only requires 3 hours of flying at night to be eligible for your private pilots certificate. Crazy right! Though, other than it being dark outside, there really isn’t anything different about it than a regular daytime flight. This article is going to give a few pointers and suggestions about night flying that will hopefully take away some of the anxiety some have about flying at night.

Like anything else, night flying just takes a little practice to get the hang of it. Since the FAA only requires three hours of night flying to pass your private pilot check ride, lots of new pilots are pretty darn nervous about flying at night for the first time. Don’t be afraid to ask your instructor to do a few more hours of night flying with you before your check ride. Or if you’ve already passed your check ride, don’t be afraid to have a friend or a fellow pilot to go on a night flight with you to gain some more experience but more importantly to gain more confidence.

Another important thing to take in to consideration when flying at night is to take some extra time to do a thorough preflight inspection. When preflighting at night, there is a greater chance of missing something when it’s dark out. Especially small things like say an oil leak or an inspection plate missing. Since it will be dark out, you’re going to want to carry some sort of a flashlight with some spare batteries. It would be a very hard preflight and shutdown without a flashlight in the dark…Ha-ha.

Finally, when flying at night, know how to use the pilot controlled lighting. Most airports will not pay to keep their lights on all night, so make sure you know how to use the lights properly. Most of the time to operate the lights, you would put in the Unicom or tower frequency into your com and click your mic button three, five, or seven times depending on how bright you want the lights. Three times for low, five for medium, and seven for high density lighting. Always remember though to re click the mic button every mile or so because you don’t want the lights to turn off wile your on short final.

All in all, the most important thing to do when flying at night is to practice, practice, and practice some more. After a few hours at night, you should start to feel the pressure toning down a little. There is nothing to be scared about when flying at night, but always remember if you have any doubt in your mind, don’t fly.

-“Because a good pilot, is always learning”

Private Pilot Blueprint

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