March 20, 2019

March 2019 Safety Corner

Night Flying – Now that the weather is loosening up a little and daylight saving time has kicked in, you’ll all probably want to get out and get some flying done. Consider doing some night flying to sharpen your skills. If it’s been a while, consider calling an instructor to help you sharpen your depth perception and night flying skills.

  • Currency is three takeoffs and landings to a full stop in category, class, and type within the preceding 90 days.
  • Don’t forget the oxygen recommendation for extended flying above 5,000 at night.
  • Night vision will be severely affected if you become even slightly hypoxic. Is it critical for just night pleasure flying around the area – no. Beneficial on cross country flights at night – yes.
  • Pre-flight will be critical. CHECK all of your lighting inside and out of the plane BEFORE you fly. Nav, beacon and collision lights are critical to your safety at night. Inside, always have red lights or small flashlights readily available when needed. Double check the health of the battery, alternator and voltage regulator before flying so that means paying especially close attention to your preflight checks.
  • If you haven’t flown in a while, you might think about jumping in the plane in the hanger during the day to get a refresher on the cockpit layout. It’s a little tougher at night to spot switches so familiarity is critical.
  • Obviously, make sure weather is not an issue when sharpening your skills. Blundering from night VFR into IMC is not a good situation to be in while trying to shake rust off – at night.
  • If you’re going to Omaha or Lincoln or a large airport, please study the airport diagrams. This is a great training exercise, so make this part of your night flying currency. A large array of bright, multi-colored lights can be very confusing. Study your airport markings and lighting before launching. When landing at a large airport, don’t hesitate to ask for progressive taxi instructions if you’re not sure where to go at night. Better safe than sorry (for you and everyone else).
  • Practice landings with the landing light out. This can be unnerving if you’re not prepared for it. Remember, who knows when your landing light decides to quit working so be prepared.
  • OVERALL, get with me, Tiernan Siems, or Joel Rourke if you feel a little apprehensive about going at night. Get that confidence back by getting out with an instructor and get the ‘feel’ back while flying at night. It’s a great time to go because the air is usually much smoother – especially in the upcoming spring/ summer. Have fun!

Kevin Broderick, ATP, CFII, Skyhawk Flying Club Safety Officer


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