September 2011 Issue

Your Lying Eyes

Low-level, nighttime maneuvering at the end of a long day is a recipe for spatial disorientation and worse.

Fight flights are some of my favorites. The air usually is smooth, what traffic is sharing the sky can be spotted easily, there’s less chatter on ATC frequencies and—when conditions are right—the beauty is unmatched. But flying at night also brings with it some additional challenges, at least when compared with the same mission during the daytime. The root problem, of course, is lack of illumination. More than a few aircraft have smacked into hillsides at night and in good weather. Even more insidious is dealing with the odd emergency, especially if we have to put down in a remote, unlit area.

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