Night VFR Poll

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by iamtheari, Feb 7, 2019.

?

Do you fly night VFR?

  1. No

    34 vote(s)
    22.7%
  2. Only in an IFR-equipped plane (and I AM instrument rated)

    48 vote(s)
    32.0%
  3. Only in an IFR-equipped plane (and I am NOT instrument rated)

    42 vote(s)
    28.0%
  4. Only over brightly lit, populated areas

    11 vote(s)
    7.3%
  5. Yes, even over sparsely populated areas without an attitude or turn indicator

    15 vote(s)
    10.0%
  6. Yes, because I am the one person in the world whose plane has a parachute but no attitude indicator

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  7. No, even though I am the one person in the world whose plane has a parachute but not attitude indica

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. cowman

    cowman En-Route PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2012
    Messages:
    3,796
    Location:
    Danger Zone
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Cowman
    I'm not sure what option really fits me. I've never really flown in an airplane that wasn't IFR equipped and all of my night flying has been on cross countries in the rural midwest, a lot of people might call these areas sparsely populated and probably not well lit but if you're up to 5000' or better you can usually see at least one airport beacon and a few towns, albeit small so IDK if I'd really consider that a problem. Over some desert regions and open water that isn't going to be the case so for flying purposes that's what I think of when I think sparsely populated.

    Before I was instrument rated, I made many night VFR flights and I never really thought it was a big deal. My minimums for night where a lot higher- as some have mentioned you can't see the clouds so I flew on mostly clear or clear above 12,000 nights. I also had a rule that I only flew into airports I'd been to during the day and that had longer runways. Never had an issue doing this, I actually waited out questionable ceilings and scattered storms a number of times in favor of a clear starry sky night flight. Night air tends to be calmer/smoother, surface winds tend to be lower, and traffic is lesser and IMO easier to see. The scariest thing about it IMO is an engine failure when you can't see what's on the ground too well.

    I'm now IFR rated so if I fly at night I'm going to file IFR and not worry about the clouds as much and probably drop the only going to airports I've been to rule when I can fly an approach.
     
    bflynn likes this.
  2. iamtheari

    iamtheari Cleared for Takeoff

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2016
    Messages:
    1,488
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Ari
    There's also the statistic-skewing possibility that pilots who lost engine power at night would have seen the falling oil pressure gauge or oil on the windshield in daylight and landed, but continued on because it was night and they did not see anything unusual.

    My search for camaraderie in this thread is all about the risk of losing situational awareness at night because I have no gyro instruments. That's what I'm actually afraid of happening to me, because I consider pilot failure to be orders of magnitude more likely than equipment failure. Are my gyro instruments a crutch or am I in good company? :)
     
  3. Stickman

    Stickman Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2018
    Messages:
    212
    Location:
    0AK1 Wasilla, AK
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Stickman
    The only reason I don't often fly VFR at night is because my home field isn't lighted.

    I don't mind taking off pre-dawn but landing after dark on an unlit strip is a bit risky.
     
  4. eman1200

    eman1200 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2013
    Messages:
    11,178
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    eman1200
    Red flies at night.....(red flies at night)

    woah oohhhhhhhhhh…..

    woah oh oh oh oh ohohoh
     
  5. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2007
    Messages:
    24,111
    Location:
    Paola, KS
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    iBanYou
    My personal opinion is that night VFR without an instrument rating and instrument capabilities isn't very wise. It's easy to either lose horizon entirely, or end up in a cloud that you didn't expect to. This can even happen on clear nights. I had one time when I flew literally from Houston to New Hampshire. Zero clouds the entire trip, including flying over my home base in Pennsylvania.

    Coming home as I was approaching the home airport at night, end up in a cloud. What? Only cloud over 2,000+ miles of flying.

    I'll fly VFR at night, but I have an instrument rating and I'm always flying an IFR-capable aircraft.
     
    flyingcheesehead likes this.
  6. Ventucky Red

    Ventucky Red Line Up and Wait

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2013
    Messages:
    853
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    John S
    Huh??? What am I missing?
     
  7. eman1200

    eman1200 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2013
    Messages:
    11,178
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    eman1200
    cheesy reference to an old cheesy song. when I heard you fly at night, it made me think of this:

     
  8. GBSoren

    GBSoren Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2015
    Messages:
    188
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    GBSoren
    I love flying at night. I'll tend to stay a little higher if possible, just to give myself a little more glide range. Almost all of my flying is rural farmland country. The only thing I like about bigger cities is the lights form the air at night, beautiful!
     
  9. Hang 4

    Hang 4 Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2017
    Messages:
    382
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Hang 4
    I fly night XC. Don't have my IR (yet), but plane is IR capable. I find it a lot easier to see other planes and I play "spot the airport beacon" on the way. I have a few places with no landing area night or day like the Okefenokee Swamp between Atlanta and Florida where I'm dependent on the engine not crapping out.

    I do make sure that its cloud free. Tend to use the AP more at night than during the day. Always with FF. Pay much more attention to where airports are en-route and what the wind is doing so that I know what my best options are if the engine has any issues, so a slightly farther away airport that is downwind might be better than a closer one upwind. Also won't go into the mountains or an airport that has mountains nearby.

    Yes, trying to land in an engine out scenario is a lot more challenging, but there are plenty of places during the day where if the engine died, I'm going into a forest too.
     
  10. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2005
    Messages:
    5,177
    Location:
    Wichita, KS
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    MauleSkinner
    ...and in the Cub, nobody’d Know you’re there! ;)

    I used to know a glider pilot who found a light thermal just before sunset...didn’t gain, but didn’t lose altitude, either. Flew for an hour, keeping track of his position by the lights in the pop machine next to the hangar.

    It’s a lot easier to do without all that light pollution. ;)
     
  11. chemgeek

    chemgeek Line Up and Wait

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2009
    Messages:
    658
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    chemgeek
    When I was VFR only I had no issues flying an AA-1A at night for XC and did so on several occasions, always at times when the weather was expected to be benign: clear or high overcast with no precip or fog. Now that I am IFR rated in an IFR-equipped AA-5 I have no qualms about flying at night in conditions that I would not hesitate to fly in the daytime. I always file IFR for night XC--no reason not to if you are rated and current. Night flight requires some extra preparation and backup procedures for the possibility of an electrical failure, which will be much more of an emergency at night than daytime. Can't have too many backup communication, navigation and lighting solutions! Flying XC at night I will choose routing to stay over more favorable terrain. I don't take any shortcuts over the Catskills at night even as ATC tries to be helpful and give me direct routing. A few extra miles to stay over the valleys is probably wise.
     
  12. Mooney Fan

    Mooney Fan Line Up and Wait

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2017
    Messages:
    636
    Location:
    Indian Mound, TN
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Mooney Fan
    You need an 'other' button

    I fly night VFR with a standard panel over dark, rural areas
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2019
    bflynn and Shepherd like this.
  13. Mooney Fan

    Mooney Fan Line Up and Wait

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2017
    Messages:
    636
    Location:
    Indian Mound, TN
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Mooney Fan
    I would not fly VFR at night without an Artificial Horizon (AI). Just the other night right after rotation out of Carrol County (KHZD) it was black.. Went straight to my instrument scan between AI, VASI , airspeed then DG... wash rinse repeat. Can't imagine night flight without some basic gyro instruments
     
    bflynn likes this.
  14. nrpetersen

    nrpetersen Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2013
    Messages:
    413
    Location:
    Minnetonka MN
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    nrpetersen
    VFR night? - My personal airplane - but not in yours.
     
    Bill Watson likes this.
  15. kyleb

    kyleb En-Route PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2008
    Messages:
    4,314
    Location:
    Marietta, GA
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Drake the Outlaw
    I do night VFR occasionally. I like it less and less because of the reduction in safety margin in off-airport landings.

    My airplane is gyro (and autopilot) equipped, but flying over large forested areas at night is unnerving, knowing that a forced landing would be a very dangerous undertaking. The last time I did any meaningful (i.e. not 3 trips around the pattern) night VFR was coming back to Atlanta from Dallas one evening a few years ago. I ran out of daylight about an hour West of here. I was up high and there were plenty of lights for horizon reference, but all of the big pools of darkness on the ground were spooky. A full moon would have made it much better.
     
  16. Rgbeard

    Rgbeard Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2017
    Messages:
    363
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ and Ensenada, Mexico
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    rgbeard
    You didn't have enough options in your poll. (For me, anyway).

    Currently, the answer is... I am instrument rated, and so is my plane.

    But, I've done plenty of VFR cross-country at night, over many years, and never had a problem.

    Even out of some of the "black hole" airports that are out here in the desert Southwest.
     
  17. Rgbeard

    Rgbeard Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2017
    Messages:
    363
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ and Ensenada, Mexico
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    rgbeard
    If you find yourself in a situation of a forced-landing at night.......

    Turn on the landing light.

    If you don't like what you see.... turn it off.
     
    Zeldman, Kansas Flyer and Eric Stoltz like this.
  18. SixPapaCharlie

    SixPapaCharlie May the force be with you

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2013
    Messages:
    13,753
    Location:
    North Texas
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    6PC
    How are you going to start a poll and not have an option for chute pullers?
     
  19. KaiGywer

    KaiGywer Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2014
    Messages:
    378
    Location:
    KBIS
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    KaiGywer
    I chose the IFR equipped and rated, but I haven't flown at night since I got my IFR rating. Before that time, however, I flew "IFR equipped" planes VFR at night for 79.4 hours.
     
  20. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2005
    Messages:
    22,045
    Location:
    UQACY, WI
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    iMooniac
    There is a lot of value in using instruments and instrument procedures on a night VFR flight, even if you're not rated (or not flying IFR if you are). The US is one of only a few countries in the world that even allows night VFR, and even the others that do generally have a separate night rating or endorsement that must be earned to do so.

    There's a lot of places where you'll lose any semblance of horizon shortly after takeoff at night. 3D2 is probably my favorite place to go where this is true - Taking off to the west, after you cross the departure end of the runway you've got state park and then Green Bay (the body of water, not the city) and there are no lights. Taking off to the east isn't much better.

    And if you use obstacle departure procedures*, IFR minimum enroute altitudes**, and an approach at the end***, you're not gonna run into anything. Rocks and trees aren't lit, and you don't have to be in the mountains to be in a place where that matters. There are plenty of airports even here in Wisconsin where terrain matters on nighttime departures.

    * Or just a standard straight to 400 AGL, 200'/nm IFR departure if there isn't an ODP
    ** Not necessarily MEAs specifically, but all of them including OROCAs
    *** You may be able to get away with a "modified" approach to avoid going too far out of your way - Above the MSA until final, then obey the altitudes coming down final.
     
  21. Eric Stoltz

    Eric Stoltz Line Up and Wait

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2017
    Messages:
    521
    Location:
    PALH
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    ES
    I must have the only airplane with an engine that is scared of the dark. I swear that thing runs rough one hour after civil twilight. I keep petting the dash, speaking soothfuly; seems to help. Has the same problem over cold, dark water, come to think of it. It's a young Lycoming, but I think it's a runt. Maybe once it get into it's teen hours it'll get over it's self.
     
    RyanShort1, KaiGywer, Zeldman and 2 others like this.
  22. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2007
    Messages:
    24,111
    Location:
    Paola, KS
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    iBanYou
    This is very true. I learned that lesson early on in my first flight in the Aztec I would eventually buy (back at around 10 hours total time), taking off out of Frenchville, Maine at night. Positive rate, gear up, where'd my horizon go? Well my 2nd lesson had been an IFR XC in actual so I already had an idea of using instruments, which was fortunate because my instructor was busy messing around with the heater (which didn't want to turn on... and it was about 0F out).

    I tend to use instrument departure procedures and approaches at airports I'm not very familiar with. I also far prefer to land at an unfamiliar airport during the day the first time. Even my current home airport a visual approach from the southeast can be a bit sketchy because of the big radio towers in that area, so I generally avoid it.
     
  23. iamtheari

    iamtheari Cleared for Takeoff

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2016
    Messages:
    1,488
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Ari
    I added two options for you to choose between.
     
  24. tawood

    tawood Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2015
    Messages:
    2,287
    Location:
    SE Michigan
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Tim
    I can tell you, that you are not the only one....I think my girlfriend is tired of me saying, "Did you hear something?" on our night/over-water flights.
     
    RyanShort1 and Eric Stoltz like this.
  25. Bill Watson

    Bill Watson Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2007
    Messages:
    2,210
    Location:
    Durham NC
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    MauleDriver
    "I used to not worry about it much and would fly a VFR (but six-pack) plane at night relatively often."

    Yes, same here, 10 to 20 years ago. Amazingly I must have done 150+ night landings at my home field without incident; tw Maule, grass, lit. My mission called for it.

    Then during one twilight landing I hit and killed a deer that I never saw. Wheel hit 'em in the rump and smashed him open. Wife and I looked at each other and thought we hit a big turtle(!?!). We were in the flare, inches from a grass tickler. The proceeded to do another 100 night landings without ever spotting another.

    Been flying an RV10 the last 8+ years. Fully IFR with SV and the works but I avoid night flying when I can. During the few (<25) night landings I've attempted at home, I've seen deer on the runway 3-4 times. Went around 2-3 times. Scares the living crap out of me. What changed? Flight school moved off the field. The healthier grass and the lack of activity has attracted grazers. Be careful what you wish for.

    For me the most important issues are familiarity with the airplane (over instrumentation or even number of engines), youthful eyes (which I no longer have), and familiarity with where I'm flying. I'll land anywhere at night with an approach, good lighting and minimal obstructions. I would never try to fly into my home airport at night if I it wasn't my home airport. I wouldn't do a night landing at say Danbury CT (KDXR) without a half dozen daytime ops... and then I'd hesitate.

    I generally consider night landings 'into the lights' less challenging than night takeoffs where you are sometimes leaving the airport lights for a black hole. IFR or VFR.

    Re tailwheel: the best thing about night is the general lack of wind and convection. Makes keeping things straight much easier. Perhaps the lack of distractions helps too. No problem with tw.
     
  26. flyingfrog

    flyingfrog Filing Flight Plan

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2012
    Messages:
    22
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    flyingfrog
    I didn’t submit a vote because the options don’t suit me. I love flying VFR at night, but I am much more picky about the terrain that I fly over. I hate departing over dense forests at night.
     
  27. Hank S

    Hank S En-Route

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2013
    Messages:
    4,645
    Location:
    Eclectic, AL
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Hank
    YES, even over sparsely populated areas WITH an attitude indicator.
     
  28. Ghery

    Ghery Final Approach

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2005
    Messages:
    9,508
    Location:
    Olympia, Washington
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Ghery Pettit
    I haven't been night current (for passengers) in a longer period time than I haven't been instrument current. It's measured in years. So, no, I don't fly night VFR. I suppose I could get night current again, but why?

    Oh, and all three planes in the club are equipped for instrument flight.
     
  29. Sundancer

    Sundancer En-Route

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2015
    Messages:
    2,627
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Sundog
    Did most of my IFR at night, what with my CFII and I having days jobs, and training in the winter. Also a lot of night VFR before I was IR; not by design or choice, but the aircraft I had access to were all IFR capable. Did ounch into a cloud at night, before my IR, but wasn't a problem.
     
  30. dmcummins

    dmcummins Pre-Flight

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2015
    Messages:
    64
    Location:
    Punta Gorda, Fl
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Dmcummins
    Not since I inadvertently flew into the clouds. I was concerned, the wife was terrified. Glad I at least had 20 hours of hood time before it happened.
     
  31. arkvet

    arkvet Line Up and Wait

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2016
    Messages:
    776
    Location:
    Arkansas
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Brent
    I’m IFR rated with a well equipped panel. I live in an area that’s mostly ag and a lot of my night flying would be over areas where luck alone would provide a feasible forced landing.

    As much as I love the calm and beauty of night flight I just don’t do it much at all. I will occasionally go up at night (bright moon) for currency but that’s pretty much it.

    I fly for pleasure and like everyone else establishes personal minimums. For me the decreased safety of single engine night flight is too much. Sucks because I love it.

    This decision has very little to do with having my IR or not. Honestly I flew more night time before the IFR.

    If I had a chute or a second engine I’d probably fly at night without hesitation. But like I said, I fly for pleasure and can alter my schedule to fall in the daylight hours.
     
  32. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2005
    Messages:
    5,177
    Location:
    Wichita, KS
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    MauleSkinner
    If luck alone is what would make a forced landing feasible, you’re not using many techniques available to improve your chances. If you choose to fly at night, I’d recommend some study and/or instruction on the subject.
     
  33. arkvet

    arkvet Line Up and Wait

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2016
    Messages:
    776
    Location:
    Arkansas
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Brent
    Maybe you’re not understanding me. My mention of “luck” is simply saying that if it was pitch dark in a rural area and you weren’t going to see what was in front of you until your landing lights hit it... you’d be about 80-90% likely to land in an ag field in the areas I typically fly.

    Study and instruction won’t change the fact that daytime visibility improves substantially the ability to make a successful off airport landing in just about every scenario imaginable.

    I don’t rely on luck. Simply saying I choose not to fly at night despite being in an area that most would consider in the lower risk category for such flight, based on geography.
     
  34. alfadog

    alfadog En-Route

    Joined:
    May 3, 2010
    Messages:
    4,340
    Location:
    Miami
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    alfadog
    I have my IR now but plenty of earlier experience without it (but with the hood time) flying over the Everglades at night. You better have the attitude gauges and know how to use them.
     
  35. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2005
    Messages:
    5,177
    Location:
    Wichita, KS
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    MauleSkinner
    Maybe you’re not understanding me...if you’re saying that luck is the only thing that would make the difference between a successful vs unsuccessful emergency landing at night in an agricultural area, you’re not using techniques available to ensure that you can select a suitable emergency landing site at night.

    I also didn’t say there was no difference between day and night, nor did I suggest that you SHOULD fly at night.
     
  36. ActiveAir

    ActiveAir Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2008
    Messages:
    254
    Location:
    SoCal
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    ActiveAir
    I fly at night. IR and have nice tech in my plane. I will go less than direct and higher if it will give me better options. My first choice is to fly during daylight, but night won't cause me to cancel a flight, unless it's IMC along the route.
     
  37. arkvet

    arkvet Line Up and Wait

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2016
    Messages:
    776
    Location:
    Arkansas
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Brent
    Well I’m not. Never said that. Have no clue where you got that. Where the hell did I say or suggest luck was the only thing that determined success or not???

    “Not using the available techniques”. So from my post you think my night flying strategy is close my eyes and hope for the best??? You’re really having a difficult time with reading comprehension.

    Go back and read if you wish. My mention of luck had nothing to do with what I relied on or my training. Had everything to do with the probability of having a suitable/ feasible landing spot if the engine failed over areas I typically fly.

    I didn’t think that was a difficult concept to grasp but I see the angle you took as taking that word (luck) out of context as if it described my plan.

    You know I mentioned a few weeks ago on another thread how I could understand why other message boards were preferable over POA. Thanks for the reminder.

    Im outta here. Much better dialogue elsewhere.
     
    KaiGywer likes this.
  38. Somedudeintn

    Somedudeintn Cleared for Takeoff

    Joined:
    May 12, 2014
    Messages:
    1,065
    Location:
    Knoxville, Tn
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Wayne F
    Me too
     
  39. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2005
    Messages:
    5,177
    Location:
    Wichita, KS
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    MauleSkinner
    you're welcome.
     
    nrpetersen likes this.
  40. Flyhound

    Flyhound Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2014
    Messages:
    287
    Location:
    Washington State
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Flyhound
    The terrain is as important to me as the instrument panel. Flying over farming country at night in a single engine airplane is not nearly as risky as flying over the mountains in the same plane. When I fly across mountain in a single in the daytime, I follow roads through the mountain passes (that's usually the lowest elevation option for the crossing). At night you can't see the roads so an emergency landing on one is almost impossible. An emergency landing on a steep mountainside at night would not likely have a good outcome. So terrain, panel and engine condition are all factors I consider. A high time engine with low compression or a rough mag isn't something I would select for night flight over any terrain either.