Night Rating - You Should Think About It!

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NeckStrain
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Night Rating - You Should Think About It!

#1 Post by NeckStrain » Tue Nov 21, 2017 6:46 am

~ Good Morning all,

You may remember me from such posts as "I CAN'T LAND A C172" or "I"M LOST - HOW TO READ A VFR CHART" - I started my PPL training in May & recently completed my Night Rating. I just wanted to share with you a brief video of my night x-country to downtown Toronto. Everyone on this board has been so helpful answering my questions, could not have asked for better wingmen / wing woman so hopefully this video and my reasons will inspire someone to pursue their night rating as well.



For everyone considering adding a night rating: My ToP 5 Reasons

1) Night air is stable air - there is very rarely any vertical movement of air at night, flying at night tends to offer stable air, great visibility and amazing scenery.

2) If you live above a certain latitude where daylight hours shrink to an ungodly amount, a night rating maybe the only thing between flying and not flying at all

3) It will make you a better aviator / navigator - my day / night landings have significantly improved by doing the night rating - you become disciplined, a mechanical approach to landings is the best way I found. Hitting certain altitude / distance checkmarks ensures you have a stable approach. Believe it or not my night landings were more likely better than my day landings!

4) You really learn to trust your instruments, a lot of people roll their eyes at good ol' 6 packs, yes, they have their errors, but they actually work really really well if you keep twisting them & at night, they're your best bet for not making a crater.

5) If you have aspirations to pursue a commercial pilot license, x-country PIC hours AT night are golden tickets to gaining that experience. This doesn't mean you have to fly SOLO - but it sure as hell means you can do some of the coolest weekend activities around

BONUS) Safety: Flying x-country (the whole point of flying to be honest) - across vast distances, in a country such as Canada, you do run the risk of encountering some unfavourable weather. Having to divert to possibly unaccommodating air strips / fields to wait the weather out, if you do have "get home-itis" - & the weather is favourable past sunset and you do have a night rating, you can safely fly back home instead of having to spend the night with 3 other guys in a C172.

Hope this encourages someone to get their night rating - it's a whole other world!
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Re: Night Rating - You Should Think About It!

#2 Post by geneticistx » Tue Nov 21, 2017 8:54 am

Im in the terminal stages of my PPL and there are two things I'm going to do right after i get my license are: 1) Night Rating (it gets dark really early in the pacific area) and 2) FAA license so I can rent a plane when I travel. I'm looking forward to the night rating.
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Re: Night Rating - You Should Think About It!

#3 Post by Craig1983 » Thu Dec 14, 2017 9:39 pm

I have one more hour of instrument to qualify. Then I hope my CFI recommends me for the signature. I'm out of ZBA. See you up there.
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Re: Night Rating - You Should Think About It!

#4 Post by 20DMEYYZ » Tue Feb 20, 2018 2:03 pm

(wingmen & wing- *Women)

..so far as your bonus pt re: safety. i would disagree, there's Wx at night too, if you aren't painting it then you better of flight planned accordingly. even so, it can turn worse convectively and in winter your freezing levels are lower. so far as putting down, perhaps under cloud or on moonless night.. it's going to be more difficult when flying as you suggested X/C.
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Re: Night Rating - You Should Think About It!

#5 Post by 455tt » Tue Feb 20, 2018 3:29 pm

Great post Neck Strain!

For me I think you are way safer overall as a PPL pilot with a night rating compared to one without. I agree completely.

Sure there is weather at night but your skills are much higher with your IFR-like flying skills you have learned -

I am a big believer in going all the way when it comes to your flying skill set: PPL's should do an IFR rating as well, in my opinion, since the IFR rating on a PPL will make you even safer and add even greater flexibility to the aircraft utility you can enjoy. Why stop at the night rating? I would make the observation that most Canadian PPL's don't seem to bother with the IFR rating, yet a very large percentage of USA PPL's get one. Seems like a good thing to me. And all the time you spent on your night rating training can be applied to the IFR rating requirements.
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Re: Night Rating - You Should Think About It!

#6 Post by montado » Tue Feb 20, 2018 4:03 pm

I'm sorry but a night rating over the GTA is kind of a joke. You have not seen night flying until you blast off out of *insert any small town or reserve in the north* with no moon or high overcast. True black hole effect as in see zero lights on the ground! Not to discount the time, it's basically night and day comparing remote areas vs flying over city lights.
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Re: Night Rating - You Should Think About It!

#7 Post by rookiepilot » Tue Feb 20, 2018 4:22 pm

montado wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 4:03 pm
I'm sorry but a night rating over the GTA is kind of a joke. You have not seen night flying until you blast off out of *insert any small town or reserve in the north* with no moon or high overcast. True black hole effect as in see zero lights on the ground! Not to discount the time, it's basically night and day comparing remote areas vs flying over city lights.
This is true. Even not so far north. Night flying over parts of eastern Ontario on a hazy night, over water, in and around Algonquin, are effectively IMC. There have been fatal accidents from those who disrespected the difference, including a recent departure from Parry Sound.

Make sure someone teaches you black hole effect.
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Re: Night Rating - You Should Think About It!

#8 Post by PilotDAR » Tue Feb 20, 2018 5:15 pm

A local example of black hole effect is Orillia Lake St John. If you take off at night eastbound, you will be completely black hole until you reach a few hundred feet up, it's just local topography. My home runway is the same. It's not a problem as long as you are disciplined about it, and fly accordingly.

Get your night rating, you'll be a better pilot, and it can make your flying more safe, as it mat reduce "get-home-itis", if you correctly wait for weather to pass, and complete your flight partly after sunset. I've made that choice a number of times, rather than being rushed into poor weather.
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Re: Night Rating - You Should Think About It!

#9 Post by JasonE » Tue Feb 20, 2018 5:20 pm

rookiepilot wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 4:22 pm
This is true. Even not so far north. Night flying over parts of eastern Ontario on a hazy night, over water, in and around Algonquin, are effectively IMC. There have been fatal accidents from those who disrespected the difference, including a recent departure from Parry Sound.

Make sure someone teaches you black hole effect.
I was lucky enough to have similar conditions when I did my night dual XC. It was a good experience to learn! Night rating so far as been very useful for me. As PilotDar mentions, there is no need to rush home through bad weather, or push your limits to try and beat nightfall.
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Re: Night Rating - You Should Think About It!

#10 Post by rookiepilot » Tue Feb 20, 2018 5:35 pm

PilotDAR wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 5:15 pm

Get your night rating, you'll be a better pilot, and it can make your flying more safe, as it mat reduce "get-home-itis", if you correctly wait for weather to pass, and complete your flight partly after sunset. I've made that choice a number of times, rather than being rushed into poor weather.
Completely agree, gives options. A starlight, long XC is a magical thing. (Over friendly terrain).

I'm not much of a fan flying north of Dar's location, not because of the darkness, but the terrain. I have on an overcast night, and it's absolutely pitch dark. But it's nice to have the skill set.
Many airports are black holes -- Kincardine, Goderich over the water, rockcliffe eastbound, Parry sound.

A good rule is no turns below 1000.
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Re: Night Rating - You Should Think About It!

#11 Post by aeroncasuperchief » Wed Feb 21, 2018 9:36 am

And make sure your land light quits on you on downwind,,,, good practice !
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Re: Night Rating - You Should Think About It!

#12 Post by waterdog » Wed Feb 21, 2018 6:14 pm

My only concern with a night rating in the GTA is exactly what has been mentioned here, not really night. It is quite possible to spend a lot of time flying around the GTA thinking you are proficient at night and then head a little bit North or East and run into all kinds of trouble. I think its a great rating to have but I think it is imperative to remember that 5 take offs and landings at Buttonville every 6 months are not the same as flying around Parry Sound and Muskoka, or any other "dark" area for that matter. I have held off getting my night rating as I am not sure that I would use it enough to remain proficient, not current, proficient. Having flown a couple of hours around Muskoka at night with an instructor and falling for the black hole effect it is something to be very aware off, it has taken down highly experienced pilots in the past and will get more and the future.

Fly safe
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Re: Night Rating - You Should Think About It!

#13 Post by rookiepilot » Wed Feb 21, 2018 8:15 pm

The worst on an overcast night IMO is rockcliff, runway 9. I believe they are fixing it but only the first half of the runway is lighted. Lift off and all references immediately disappear, and headed for the dark river. Nasty. Worse than a day IMC takeoff, at least to my limits.

Such a takeoff isn't to be done when unfocused or tired, goes without saying. Check VSI immediately after liftoff make sure one is actually climbing, then trim. Cannot tell otherwise.

Muskoka Ect not as bad, as the remaining lighted runway -- don't shortchange at night -- allows a brief transition to set climb attitude and trim, at least. Trim is important at night. Good cockpit lighting is important too, red preferably for takeoff.

Autopilot not a bad idea at night for a really long XC over dark terrain.

An IFR rating or even a few hours of night hood time are quite valuable IMO for night flying.

One last thought -- when it can be avoided, avoid long straight in approaches over dark terrain. Very difficult to judge. Fly a complete pattern, at least downwind / base, fairly close in, helps a lot.
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Re: Night Rating - You Should Think About It!

#14 Post by TeePeeCreeper » Wed Feb 21, 2018 8:40 pm

rookiepilot wrote:
Wed Feb 21, 2018 8:15 pm
The worst on an overcast night IMO is rockcliff, runway 9. I believe they are fixing it but only the first half of the runway is lighted. Lift off and all references immediately disappear, and headed for the dark river. Nasty. Worse than a day IMC takeoff, at least to my limits.

Such a takeoff isn't to be done when unfocused or tired, goes without saying. Check VSI immediately after liftoff make sure one is actually climbing, then trim. Cannot tell otherwise.

Muskoka Ect not as bad, as the remaining lighted runway -- don't shortchange at night -- allows a brief transition to set climb attitude and trim, at least. Trim is important at night. Good cockpit lighting is important too, red preferably for takeoff.

Autopilot not a bad idea at night for a really long XC over dark terrain.

An IFR rating or even a few hours of night hood time are quite valuable IMO for night flying.

One last thought -- when it can be avoided, avoid long straight in approaches over dark terrain. Very difficult to judge. Fly a complete pattern, at least downwind / base, fairly close in, helps a lot.
Over the years I’ve kept reading your posts about CYRO and the dangers associated with departures 09.

I’m sick and tired of it to be frank with you. As soon as you get airborn (assuming VMC) you’ve got a lot of light coming from Gatineau and all of those beautiful houses on your right side from Rothwell Heights.

Easy peasy me thinks (and I’ve done a lot of flying there at night)

You should see what CYAT or CYFA or CYPO looks like at night. The so called black hole effect you speak of at CYRO is merely a training ground for “rookies” (Pun intended)

With respect to a recreational aviator,

TPC
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Re: Night Rating - You Should Think About It!

#15 Post by rookiepilot » Wed Feb 21, 2018 9:03 pm

TeePeeCreeper wrote:
Wed Feb 21, 2018 8:40 pm
rookiepilot wrote:
Wed Feb 21, 2018 8:15 pm
The worst on an overcast night IMO is rockcliff, runway 9. I believe they are fixing it but only the first half of the runway is lighted. Lift off and all references immediately disappear, and headed for the dark river. Nasty. Worse than a day IMC takeoff, at least to my limits.

Such a takeoff isn't to be done when unfocused or tired, goes without saying. Check VSI immediately after liftoff make sure one is actually climbing, then trim. Cannot tell otherwise.

Muskoka Ect not as bad, as the remaining lighted runway -- don't shortchange at night -- allows a brief transition to set climb attitude and trim, at least. Trim is important at night. Good cockpit lighting is important too, red preferably for takeoff.

Autopilot not a bad idea at night for a really long XC over dark terrain.

An IFR rating or even a few hours of night hood time are quite valuable IMO for night flying.

One last thought -- when it can be avoided, avoid long straight in approaches over dark terrain. Very difficult to judge. Fly a complete pattern, at least downwind / base, fairly close in, helps a lot.
Over the years I’ve kept reading your posts about CYRO and the dangers associated with departures 09.

I’m sick and tired of it to be frank with you. As soon as you get airborn (assuming VMC) you’ve got a lot of light coming from Gatineau and all of those beautiful houses on your right side from Rothwell Heights.

Easy peasy me thinks (and I’ve done a lot of flying there at night)

You should see what CYAT or CYFA or CYPO looks like at night. The so called black hole effect you speak of at CYRO is merely a training ground for “rookies” (Pun intended)

With respect to a recreational aviator,

TPC
This is the flight training thread. Not many low time PPL's will take off from CYAT, respectfully back, though I take your point. I wouldn't, and haven't flown up there at night (though I've been into CYAT) -- so I have no basis for comparison. Sure it's far worse.

When I last took off CYRO, it was perhaps 3 and HZ. Don't recall seeing any lights until well off the ground. I'm referring only to the immediate liftoff cause they never bothered to light the whole runway, which I happen to think is rather stupid. Why not?

Done enough relatively dark night takeoffs, I just happen to remember that one.

JMO.
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Re: Night Rating - You Should Think About It!

#16 Post by TeePeeCreeper » Wed Feb 21, 2018 9:08 pm

rookiepilot wrote:
Wed Feb 21, 2018 9:03 pm
TeePeeCreeper wrote:
Wed Feb 21, 2018 8:40 pm
rookiepilot wrote:
Wed Feb 21, 2018 8:15 pm
The worst on an overcast night IMO is rockcliff, runway 9. I believe they are fixing it but only the first half of the runway is lighted. Lift off and all references immediately disappear, and headed for the dark river. Nasty. Worse than a day IMC takeoff, at least to my limits.

Such a takeoff isn't to be done when unfocused or tired, goes without saying. Check VSI immediately after liftoff make sure one is actually climbing, then trim. Cannot tell otherwise.

Muskoka Ect not as bad, as the remaining lighted runway -- don't shortchange at night -- allows a brief transition to set climb attitude and trim, at least. Trim is important at night. Good cockpit lighting is important too, red preferably for takeoff.

Autopilot not a bad idea at night for a really long XC over dark terrain.

An IFR rating or even a few hours of night hood time are quite valuable IMO for night flying.

One last thought -- when it can be avoided, avoid long straight in approaches over dark terrain. Very difficult to judge. Fly a complete pattern, at least downwind / base, fairly close in, helps a lot.
Over the years I’ve kept reading your posts about CYRO and the dangers associated with departures 09.

I’m sick and tired of it to be frank with you. As soon as you get airborn (assuming VMC) you’ve got a lot of light coming from Gatineau and all of those beautiful houses on your right side from Rothwell Heights.

Easy peasy me thinks (and I’ve done a lot of flying there at night)

You should see what CYAT or CYFA or CYPO looks like at night. The so called black hole effect you speak of at CYRO is merely a training ground for “rookies” (Pun intended)

With respect to a recreational aviator,

TPC
This is the flight training thread. Not many low time PPL's will take off from CYAT, respectfully back, though I take your point. I wouldn't, and haven't flown up there at night (though I've been into CYAT) -- so I have no basis for comparison. Sure it's far worse.

When I last took off CYRO, it was perhaps 3 and HZ. Don't recall seeing any lights until well off the ground. I'm referring only to the immediate liftoff cause they never bothered to light the whole runway, which I happen to think is rather stupid. Why not?

Done enough relatively dark night takeoffs, I just happen to remember that one.

JMO.
Noted, and I appreciate your response.
I learned to fly out of CYRO (a long time ago now) and other than the displaced threshold (Damn NCC and not cutting trees) really see it as a non even. The only safety consideration that could be added is a papi but heck... it’s a GA airport at best! Know your limits... if 3 miles in HZ makes you uncomfortable than don’t blast off into it!
Between you and I, 3 miles in light haze at night only makes the shoreline more visible!

All in all, as I’m sure you would agree... lots of visual cues....
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Re: Night Rating - You Should Think About It!

#17 Post by rookiepilot » Thu Feb 22, 2018 6:08 am

Teepee,

The 3 SM wasn't an issue....I'm IFR rated but I wouldn't do a single engine takeoff with a ceiling below 200 -- JMO CYRO at night is a bit worse for the first moments, pitch up and (brief) immediate loss of reference. Yes, after then there are lots of lights. It's the moment after rotation there that's interesting.

Other factor is most of us don't fly a lot at night, so accident rates are much higher...that was reason for my comments too. Hate seeing those.

Somehow SE night into the reserves isn't appealing...unless it was a PC 12, with an FO. Can't imagine why....that black hole up there must be truly ugly. Not a pinprick of light.

I remember a day IMC flight where the cloud was solid and formless. Just white goo all the way up and for a 100 miles plus. Zero sensation of movement. Must be like that?

Sure it's just me!
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Re: Night Rating - You Should Think About It!

#18 Post by youhavecontrol » Thu Feb 22, 2018 8:16 am

The Night Time is the Right Time! So much less traffic and radio congestion in many places, and often stable air. I love it, but have a healthy fear of it.

Here's some safety tips, many from experience:
-bring your headlamp and extra batteries just in case.. ALWAYS
-pay attention to your aircraft lights, they'll tell you a lot about the humidity of the air you are flying in. The strobes often will show you any precip you encounter as they flash.
-monitor your ammeter
-the lights below you will start to change or disappear when cloud or fog is present
-for dead-reckoning, your use of a timer and heading is critically important, as many towns and towers can look the same
-don't plan on using a road for a checkpoint late at night
-if you're familiar with a small runway/airport, the first time you land at a big airport, you may be too wide in the circuit, high on approach, and flare too early on landing.
-if you're familiar with a large runway/airport, the first time you land at a small airport, you may be too tight in the circuit, low on approach, and flare too late on landing.

Single engine night flying is DEFINITELY something to be respected, and you gotta watch your engine gauges carefully. A few years back, I asked my uncle why he never got his night rating. He told me it was because he was terrified of having an engine failure at night. Seriously a month later, he had an engine failure during the day (maintenance messed-up his engine overhaul). He was able to land without injury, but damaged the aircraft.
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Re: Night Rating - You Should Think About It!

#19 Post by 20DMEYYZ » Thu Feb 22, 2018 11:35 am

question for TPC & RP: would you follow the right turn out once off YRO 27 at night for noise mitigation over the RCMP stables that's advised? or would you disregard until well established in the climb? (have either of you been cautioned? we were after overflying in Aztec)
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Re: Night Rating - You Should Think About It!

#20 Post by FlyGy » Thu Feb 22, 2018 11:56 am

montado wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 4:03 pm
I'm sorry but a night rating over the GTA is kind of a joke. You have not seen night flying until you blast off out of *insert any small town or reserve in the north* with no moon or high overcast. True black hole effect as in see zero lights on the ground! Not to discount the time, it's basically night and day comparing remote areas vs flying over city lights.
One of the favorite aspects I enjoy is departing on a cloud covered night from up North to the south. In the beginning all is pretty much black, eventually you can see the soft glow of lights from a mining site reflecting through the clouds, then the occasional small community, followed by farm yards, and in the distance you can see the lights of larger towns and cities as you fly closer.
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Re: Night Rating - You Should Think About It!

#21 Post by CpnCrunch » Thu Feb 22, 2018 12:41 pm

rookiepilot wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 5:35 pm
A good rule is no turns below 1000.
IFR departures are no turns below 400ft, and VFR circuits typically you don't turn until 500ft. 400-500ft seems reasonable if the pilot knows what the AI is for. If not, they probably shouldn't be flying at night.
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Re: Night Rating - You Should Think About It!

#22 Post by rookiepilot » Thu Feb 22, 2018 2:52 pm

CpnCrunch wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 12:41 pm
rookiepilot wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 5:35 pm
A good rule is no turns below 1000.
IFR departures are no turns below 400ft, and VFR circuits typically you don't turn until 500ft. 400-500ft seems reasonable if the pilot knows what the AI is for. If not, they probably shouldn't be flying at night.
To me that would depend on experience, terrain around airport, conditions. I'd be cautious turning too early from an unfamiliar airport
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Re: Night Rating - You Should Think About It!

#23 Post by Broken Slinky » Fri Feb 23, 2018 2:04 pm

rookiepilot wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 4:22 pm
This is true. Even not so far north. Night flying over parts of eastern Ontario on a hazy night, over water, in and around Algonquin, are effectively IMC. There have been fatal accidents from those who disrespected the difference, including a recent departure from Parry Sound.

Make sure someone teaches you black hole effect.
100% agree. There's lots of runways close to Toronto that will present black hole effect even during 100% clear nights. Goderich, Midland, Pelee Island, Wiarton and Tobermory can very absent of light depending on the take off direction.
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Re: Night Rating - You Should Think About It!

#24 Post by SuperchargedRS » Fri Feb 23, 2018 2:28 pm

Not being able to fly at night as a licensed pilot is just crazy to me, it would be nice if one of these days they just combined the night and VFR ontop into the basic PPL.
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Re: Night Rating - You Should Think About It!

#25 Post by geneticistx » Sun Apr 29, 2018 12:06 pm

I want to bubble this thread back to the top...
I've read the CARs, and there is no specification that the "dual hours" have to be done with an instructor, just that the rating has to be signed off by an instructor or AP once they are confident the individual is capable/safe/etc. The solos have to be signed out, is my understanding, but, correct me, please, can the duals and the cross-country be done with someone else who is PIC with a Night Rating who would, by definition - by CARs, be PIC?
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