Get the latest news on coronavirus impacts on general aviation, including what AOPA is doing to protect GA, event cancellations, advice for pilots to protect themselves, and more. Read More
Already a member? Please login below for an enhanced experience. Not a member? Join today
Menu

What am I? See and be seenWhat am I? See and be seen

Navigation lights help you—and them

What Am IHow can you tell if an aircraft is coming toward you or away from you? It seems like it would be obvious, but in the sky environment often things are not as they seem. Haven’t you ever thought you saw an aircraft only to have it seemingly disappear among the lights on the ground? There’s a bright shimmer replaced by nothingness, and you scan the sky repeatedly until you finally see it again. Navigation lights have their history in the maritime world; they take their origin from shipping laws of the 1800s. A red light will be on the port side (the left), a green light on the starboard side (right), and a white light on the stern (tail). An aircraft is coming toward you if the red light is on the right and away from you if you see the white light. Nav lights—also known as position lights—are located on the wing tip and tail. They are required to be used from sunset to sunrise. Aircraft built after 1996 are required to also have anti-collision lights.

[email protected]

Julie Walker

Julie Summers Walker

AOPA Senior Features Editor
AOPA Senior Features Editor Julie Summers Walker joined AOPA in 1998. She is a student pilot still working toward her solo.

Related Articles