Fall flying often is a welcome change for pilots - the hot, humid, high-density-altitude conditions that hamper aircraft performance are gone, and the cooler, denser air that promises better climb rates is here to stay for a while. But taking advantage of the change of seasons means dusting off skills that probably haven't been used for a while, like night flying.
AOPA Online has just the resources to get pilots back in the groove of night flying before the days get even shorter and the time changes - get night current, easily spot airports at night, avoid high-speed military jets on lights-out training missions, and more.
The AOPA Air Safety Foundation's night flying safety topic provides quick access to AOPA Pilot and AOPA Flight Training articles, Sporty's Safety Quizzes, and Safety Hot Spots about that subject, including currency requirements. A subject report compiled by the specialists in AOPA's Pilot Information Center provides links to more than 30 magazine articles.
Remember, the required fuel reserve for flying VFR at night increases from 30 to 45 minutes. Check out the Fuel Management Safety Hot Spot in the AOPA Online Safety Center.
Spotting an airport at night can be much more difficult than during the day, especially if it is located in a densely populated area in which the airport lights blend in with the city. Two Sporty's Safety Quizzes focus on VFR and IFR airport lighting.
Pilots also will need to make sure their aircraft is properly illuminated - inside and out. Be extra vigilant while flying at night near military operations areas (MOAs). The military's lights-out training program allows its pilots to fly using night-vision goggles with all exterior lighting turned off. Take the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's Mission: Possible course to learn more.
The AOPA Online Safety Center also houses interactive courses produced by the AOPA Air Safety Foundation, including two instrument flying courses, IFR Adventure: Rules to Live By and Single-Pilot IFR. For VFR or instrument-rated pilots, a new course, Weather Wise: Ceiling and Visibility, uses in-flight video clips to show what MVFR, VFR, and IFR conditions really look like to the pilot and points out the signs of changing weather conditions.
October 6, 2005