Your night contact flight is designed to expose you to the night flying environment and
familiarize you with the fundamentals of night flying. Our military fighting forces operate more
and more at night, developing basic night operating skills and situation awareness have increased
in their importance to mission accomplishment.
NIGHT FLYING PHYSIOLOGY
Remember from previous lectures on flight physiology the eye uses different parts for night
vision than for day vision. Because of the difference in function of the rods and cones, scan
techniques must be changed in order to spot objects at night. Do not stare at a spot, but scan the
vicinity of the sky in which you believe the object to be located.
The eyes must be adapted for night vision; the pupils must dilate and the rods must be brought
into full use. It takes approximately 30 minutes for the eyes to become completely adapted, and
only ten seconds for all adaptation to be lost in bright light. Accomplish adaptation by total
darkness or gradually approaching darkness such as normal daylight to sunset to night.
Vertigo is a feeling of dizziness and disorientation caused by doubt in visual interpretation of
your attitude. This feeling is often experienced at night from lack of a well-defined horizon. The
period immediately after takeoff, leaving a well-lighted runway and entering complete darkness,
brings on this feeling of disorientation. Trust and use your attitude gyro.
Often you will not be able to see anything of the aircraft ahead except its taillight or strobe lights.
In such cases, it will be difficult to judge distance, since the only criterion for judgment will be
changing intensity at changing distance; therefore, you will have to check its movement in
relation to known references to ascertain relative movement. You can judge distance and relative
motion by the distance between two lights on the same aircraft. You will undoubtedly
experience some difficulty in discerning moving lights from fixed lights or stars. This can be
further complicated by the autokinetic effect, the apparent motion of stationary objects. Again,
this may be overcome by using known references for comparison.
Night flights briefs will be given prior to commencing syllabus night operations. Ensure you eat
a good meal to properly fuel your body prior to attending the brief .
You are expected to know emergency procedures thoroughly prior to the brief and will be
quizzed on them by the instructor. If you are uncertain about anything concerning the night's
flight, get it cleared up during the brief by asking your instructor.