Night VFR Flight
When you contemplate a VFR night flight, planning takes on another dimension—well beyond your usual VFR daytime flight planning; if not it should. Some of the questions to ask yourself before any night flight:
- Are you night current?
- Do you feel comfortable with night takeoffs and landings?
- What’s the possibility you’ll encounter clouds? You will not be able to see clouds on a dark, moonless night.
- Is there rising terrain after departure, along your route, or on the approach path at your destination?
Fully brief your flight and understand weather conditions that can produce marginal visibility leading up to IMC levels. At night marginal VMC should be considered a no-go for VFR operations. Be sure to review the free resources below and test your knowledge with a quiz.
Low ceilings and restricted visibilities are aviation's deadliest killers. With a little knowledge, you can minimize the risk these conditions pose (approx. 45-60 minutes). Take the Course >>>
In flying, making the right choices isn't always easy. This course offers some simple but effective ways to improve your aeronautical decision making skills—no psychology degree required! (approx. 45-60 minutes).
Take the course >>>
Do you feel comfortable flying at night? Will the weather hold up? You will not be able to see clouds on a dark night. If you’re questioning the weather along your route or for any reason feel uncomfortable flying at night, don’t let external pressure sway you (approx. 3 minutes). See the Video >>>
Is there rising terrain after departure? You better know local departure procedures and your aircraft performance numbers when taking off in the mountains at night (approx. 5 minutes). See the video >>>
The Cessna 400 pilot experienced loss of engine power over the Pennsylvania mountains at night.(approx. 10 minutes). Hear the pilot tell the story >>>
The senses we use to maintain our balance and know "which end is up" are completely unreliable when our bodies are in motion without visual reference to the world around us. No amount of training or experience can overcome this physiological limitation. Pilots deprived of visual references while flying can quickly lose control of the aircraft and succumb to one of general aviation's biggest killers: spatial disorientation. (PDF file—320KB) Download it now >>>
Picture in your mind several military jets, possibly flying near-supersonic speeds at night, with their exterior lights off. Now picture a general aviation (GA) aircraft flying on the same night, in the same airspace, in the dark. Truth is, you are already familiar with recommended procedures for operating in special use airspace. This Safety Advisor will help you apply that knowledge for the new and specific purpose of safely transiting the new world of Lights-out designated MOAs. (PDF file—483KB) Download it now >>>
An overwhelming desire to sleep is the most pronounced symptom of fatigue, and it's a decidedly uncomfortable feeling when you're at the controls of an airplane. In reality, though, there's a lot more to fatigue than the risk of dozing off in the cockpit. This Safety Brief looks at some of the things that can lead to fatigue, and some ways to keep it from catching up with you in the cockpit. (PDF file — 149KB) Download it now >>>
ASI Safety Quizzes
Don't be afraid of the dark. Take this quiz to test your knowledge of night flying.
Pilots deprived of visual references can quickly lose control of the aircraft. Stay oriented with this safety quiz.
Airports can become a bewildering array of lights after the sun goes down. Fortunately, there’s this illuminating safety quiz.
When ceilings are low and visibility is poor, approach lighting can guide you in safely. Test your knowledge.
Updated October 19, 2009