Technique Tuesday – Night Flying

Freedom Aviation has been very busy with Night Flying in 2015. With the certification of Kemble’s excellent new lighting system, so far 7 people have completed, or are about to complete, night ratings and a further 6 are checked out to fly at night. But what makes night flying so special? And what’s involved in gaining a night rating?

What’s the buzz all about?

Everyone likes flying in the smooth clear days that winter can often bring. Well at night, gone are the thermals which cause many an unwanted bump and the evening sky is often replaced with the smooth still air which all aviators dream of.

The view out of the window takes on a whole new magical appearance. Navigation is aided by large towns, roads and lights. Water all but disappears and circuit joins become a new challenge. Day trips to Le Touquet are no longer cut short by fading light, so you can enjoy that hour on the beach. So, are you caught up in the romance yet? Yes? Good. Here’s what is involved.

The Night Rating Course

There are no pre-entry requirements to fulfil for the Night Rating – you can even include it in your PPL course if you have the flying skills of Douglas Bader. However, some experience of instrument flying is a good idea. If you’ve recently passed your PPL Skill Test, you should be fine. If that was a while ago – no problem – you’ll soon get the hang of things.

The course requires 5hrs of night flying, including 5 solo take-off and landings. The course is broken down into the following sections:

Navigation – 2 hours

10955752_10152788190531478_7028792743272000560_nAfter a thorough briefing, the first two hours will consist of some general handing and local area navigation to get you used to flying at night. The ‘picture’ remains the same, but some key sensory inputs are missing when flying at night, so these need to be explained and compensated for.

At Freedom, we like to take students on a Navigation exercise around the London TMA. This enables students to not only get experience of busy airspace, radio work and flying at night, but to get some truly stunning views of central London. You’re able to pick out all the famous landmarks – The Shard, The London Eye, Canary Wharf etc.

Circuits – 2 hours

After getting to grips with night flying, it’s into the circuit. You’ll get experience at flying circuits in the dark and taking really good care to maintain the correct approach gradient – you don’t want to be low at night! Once that’s all mastered, your instructor will start turning things off! That’s when the fun begins. How well do you think you can land with no landing light? Or no internal lights? Once that’s all sorted (it’s not difficult – honest) you’re released for solo work.

Solo Circuits – 1 hour

Students are required to complete 5 complete stop-go landings. Upon successful completion, your paperwork is signed and off to The CAA you go. 🙂

Time is running out…

Kemble is currently open until 8pm every Thursday. Remember – official night is 30 minutes after sunset. As the nights get longer (currently by approximately 12 minutes a week) there are only 6 nights left before the clocks change!

With 3 instructors and 5 aircraft available most Thursday evenings, is it time you had a go?

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One thought on “Technique Tuesday – Night Flying

  1. Pingback: Romania Exped – Day 6. Graz to Metz Nancy | Freedom Aviation Blog

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