January 2010 Issue

Night Flying Lessons

Many night-flying accidents result from both a failure to plan and a failure to see. The human eye makes it hard to do one, but weíre in charge of the other.

Night flying can be just as safe as flying in the daytimeóbut it isnít. Although accidents are more likely to occur during the daytime, according to the AOPA Air Safety Foundationís 2007 Nall Report, accidents at night (and in IMC, for that matter) are more likely to be fatal. "Only 19.2 percent of daytime accidents resulted in fatalities, but over one-third (34.6 percent) of all night accidents were fatal." Meanwhile, the same report states, "At night, nearly half of the accidents in VMC conditions were fatal (45.0 percent), compared to nearly three-fourths of night IMC accidents (74.1 percent). Night-flying accidents are generally thought of as being caused by inexperienceóby students, or low-time pilotsóbut nighttime offers an equal opportunity for embarrassment, or worse. Experienced airmen are involved, too.

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