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Airplane Flying Handbook
Night Operations
Airplane Equipment And Lighting

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Airplane Flying Handbook


Table of Contents

Chapter 1,Introduction to Flight Training
Chapter 2,Ground Operations
Chapter 3,Basic Flight Maneuvers
Chapter 4, Slow Flight, Stalls, and Spins
Chapter 5, Takeoff and Departure Climbs
Chapter 6, Ground Reference Maneuvers
Chapter 7, Airport Traffic Patterns
Chapter 8, Approaches and Landings
Chapter 9, Performance Maneuvers
Chapter 10, Night Operations
Chapter 11,Transition to Complex Airplanes
Chapter 12, Transition to Multiengine Airplanes
Chapter 13,Transition to Tailwheel Airplanes
Chapter 14, Transition to Turbo-propeller Powered Airplanes
Chapter 15,Transition to Jet Powered Airplanes
Chapter 16,Emergency Procedures



Bright runway and approach lighting systems, especially
where few lights illuminate the surrounding
terrain, may create the illusion of less distance to the
runway. In this situation, the tendency is to fly a
higher approach. Also, when flying over terrain with
only a few lights, it will make the runway recede or
appear farther away. With this situation, the tendency
is common to fly a lower-than-normal approach. If
the runway has a city in the distance on higher terrain,
the tendency will be to fly a lower-than-normal
approach. A good review of the airfield layout and
boundaries before initiating any approach will help
the pilot maintain a safe approach angle.

Illusions created by runway lights result in a variety of
problems. Bright lights or bold colors advance the runway,
making it appear closer.

Night landings are further complicated by the difficulty
of judging distance and the possibility of confusing
approach and runway lights. For example, when a double
row of approach lights joins the boundary lights of
the runway, there can be confusion where the approach
lights terminate and runway lights begin. Under certain
conditions, approach lights can make the aircraft seem
higher in a turn to final, than when its wings are level.

Before beginning a night flight, carefully consider
personal equipment that should be readily available
during the flight. At least one reliable flashlight is
recommended as standard equipment on all night
flights. Remember to place a spare set of batteries in
the flight kit. A D-cell size flashlight with a bulb
switching mechanism that can be used to select white
or red light is preferable. The white light is used while
performing the preflight visual inspection of the airplane,
and the red light is used when performing cockpit operations.
Since the red light is nonglaring, it will not impair
night vision. Some pilots prefer two flashlights, one
with a white light for preflight, and the other a penlight
type with a red light. The latter can be suspended
by a string from around the neck to ensure the light is
always readily available. One word of caution; if a red
light is used for reading an aeronautical chart, the red
features of the chart will not show up.

Aeronautical charts are essential for night cross-country
flight and, if the intended course is near the edge of
the chart, the adjacent chart should also be available.
The lights of cities and towns can be seen at surprising
distances at night, and if this adjacent chart is not available
to identify those landmarks, confusion could
result. Regardless of the equipment used, organization
of the cockpit eases the burden on the pilot and
enhances safety.

Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR)
part 91 specifies the basic minimum airplane equipment
required for night flight. This equipment includes
only basic instruments, lights, electrical energy source,
and spare fuses.

The standard instruments required for instrument
flight under 14 CFR part 91 are a valuable asset for
aircraft control at night. An anticollision light system,
including a flashing or rotating beacon and position
lights, is required airplane equipment. Airplane position
lights are arranged similar to those of boats and
ships. A red light is positioned on the left wingtip, a
green light on the right wingtip, and a white light on
the tail. [Figure 10-2]

Position lights.
Figure 10-2. Position lights.

This arrangement provides a means by which pilots
can determine the general direction of movement of
other airplanes in flight. If both a red and green light of
another aircraft were observed, the airplane would be
flying toward the pilot, and could be on a collision

Landing lights are not only useful for taxi, takeoffs,
and landings, but also provide a means by which airplanes
can be seen at night by other pilots. The Federal
Aviation Administration (FAA) has initiated a voluntary
pilot safety program called "Operation Lights
ON." The "lights on" idea is to enhance the "see and
be seen" concept of averting collisions both in the air
and on the ground, and to reduce the potential for bird
strikes. Pilots are encouraged to turn on their landing
lights when operating within 10 miles of an airport.
This is for both day and night, or in conditions of
reduced visibility. This should also be done in areas
where flocks of birds may be expected.