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Night VFR

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Important! To Read! those tutorials about the night VFR and IFR ratings, and about flying the airliners are not as accurate and reliable than those dedicated to the VFR flights. It's because we really practised the VFR flights, as we didn't ever qualify for the night VFR and the IFR ratings nor any commercial license! Our tutorials about such flights are based on our VFR experience only, and augmented with data and readings taken from the Internet! People who would like to find in those the same level of accuracy and details than in our VFR tutorials, should better turn to further websites or source. People who are just looking for a honest level of realism might be satisfied already with the level of our tutorials about the night VFR, IFR flights, and the ones aboard an airliner

The night VFR rating generally is acquired by the VFR pilots who want to be able to fly after sunset and before sunrise, allowing for longer week-ends... The night VFR rating, on the other hand, is often part of a move which leads to the IFR rating. You will note that those flying skills beyond the basic PPL are called ratings as they are not new licenses by themselves. When you'll train for these, you'll not get a new license, you'll just be officially recognized new flying skills

Flying night VFR means to fly VFR, by night. To fly by night first requires that the apprentice gets a first initiation to the instrument flying. Technically, such an initiation is not IFR flying strictly but, better, flying without visibility. In the real life, in France, for example, the night VFR rating brings the pilot to take a 3-hour, flight without visibility training, a 3-hour night flying training -mostly centered of the practice of the airport traffic pattern by night, 5 night take offs and landings, and some night navigations

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. The Flight Without Visibility
. Performing a Night VFR Navigation
. Miscellaneous Additional Data
. Night VFR Emergency Procedures

arrow back The Flight Without Visibility

At the exception of pecularily well lighted flight environments like large airports near large cities, for example, the night VFR flight, as far as take offs and landings are concerned, or when performed in the countryside over particularly inhabited and dark areas, may be assimilated to IFR flying. Such conditions indeed do not allow anymore to see the landscape, thus to get the visual clues with the natural horizon and the panel's upper part you get accustomed to with our tutorials dedicated to the basic flight maneuvers. Once you'll be flying level over usually populated areas, or you'll be taking off or landing from well lighted areas, you'll be back to a VFR flight (a night one, of course), with the diffuse, sumber light coming from the stars, or the cloud ceiling taking in -from far away- a part of a city's lights giving a sufficient view of where the horizon is; not taking in account a night when the Moon will be present. So, first, back to the classroom for the flight without visibility

From what terrain can you fly from and to? The night VFR flying necessitates a terrain with some night lighting, and which is rated for the night VFR (such a rating is usually found on the terrains' maps). Should, for example, your terrain not have such a homologation, you will have to fly with your instructor to the next terrain which had gotten it

The theory for the flight without visibility. To fly without visibility means to fly by using, like a mean to know the flight attitude of your plane, the six, basic gauges of the plane's panel. The airspeed indicator, the artifical horizon, the altimeter, the turn indicator and coordinator, the heading indicator and the vertical speed indicator, that is (from the upper left and to the bottom right of the panel). As we didn't found much documentation about the 'flight without visibility' practice for the night VFR, as differing from the real, IFR practice, we'll give hereunder the basics of the IFR flight, as most of those data are synthetized from the lessons by the FS2000 instructor Roy Machado in the French-speaking version manual of FS2000, and that you'll find those techniques back when you'll choose to pass IFR. Here are the basics for how to fly a plane with the reference to the flight instruments only (the steps of the procedure are the same for any of those! The plane, first is set into the attitude or pitch through the AI, with a first, quick tab setting. Then, the radial reading with the AI the major reference (moving for the AI to the one, or more gauges controling the move as any corrections is made through the AI only). Then a fine tab tuning, through the VSI. At last, time permitting, a control reading):
. placing the plane into a given pitch: while instrument flying, to place the plane into some new, given pitch, is made through the attitude indicator (or artificial horizon). Using the attitude indicator's accurate marks, you'll place the plane, for example, in a climb, or in a turn. And then, you'll perform a first, gross trim
. the 'radial reading': the second step, then, is performing a typical procedure which brings to control the plane as it's in the said pitch. This control is called a 'radial reading', as you'll radially read, according to a standard circuit, the flight instruments necessary for that control. Each plane attitude needs a specific radial reading. In any case however, the radial reading starts from the attitude indicator, as it's the flight instrument which controls the plane's main pitch
. fine-tuning the attitude: the next step is to fine-tune the plane in the pitch, with the help of the vertical speed indicator (VSI) and the elevator's trim. You'll finely tune the trim and checking through the VSI that she neither climb or descent
. the 'control reading': the 'control reading', at last, consists -should the maneuver lets you time enough for that- into to read the six main flight instruments clockwise, beginning with the upper left gauge. Any change then is corrected through a slight action on the flight controls, and a check through the AI only. A good way to practice that control reading is the one Roy Machado is giving in the FS, with looking at under the AI and controlling the other instruments through a peripheral vision. Any change in the flight is then spotted!
. you'll note that the whole of the method (from the placement of the plane into the attitude until the end of the control reading) must not exceed between 7 and 20 seconds!

Let's now see in a more detailed way how the instruments reading are performed, into the flight, for each of the pitches and attitudes, considered that the steps of the procedure are the same for any of those! The plane, first is set into the attitude or pitch through the AI, with a first, quick tab setting. Then, the radial reading with the AI the major reference (moving for the AI to the one, or more gauges controling the move as any corrections is made through the AI only). Then a fine tab tuning, through the VSI. At last, time permitting, a control reading

The practice of those different instrument readings should get acquired, finally, through experience, as it might even get simplified to be adjusted to the needs of the night VFR flight

arrow back Performing a Night VFR Navigation

A night VFR flight unfolds according to the same scheme than a day VFR flight (see our tutorial to come 'The Steps of a Flight in a GA Plane') as a night navigation gets prepared just like a one for a daylight flight (see our tutorial to come 'To Navigate Aboard a GA Plane'). The only -and important- difference is that the visual marks to take along the course will be defined by their luminosity mainly -and identifiable with no mistake- as such marks in the landscape will have to be complemented with radionav aids (VORs, ADFs, etc., and/or the radials for those). In the absence of any visual landmarks, the pilot MUST, in any case, navigate through the use of the VORs, NDBs, etc. and/or the GPS. As far as the use of an on-board flight computer is concerned, the main remark is not -less still than for a daylight flight- to fly with the instruments only! To fly night VFR is still flying VFR. Hence, no instrument flight in VFR (or just get informed about the practice about that in your country)!

arrow back Miscellaneous Additional Data

arrow back Night VFR Emergency Procedures

Website Manager: G. Guichard, site Lessons In Microsoft Flight Simulator / Leçons de vol pour les Flight Simulator de Microsoft, Page Editor: G. Guichard. last edited: 5/27/2013. contact us at
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