Yesterday, December 22, was the Winter Solstice. It made for the longest night of the year. Unfortunately, I was unable to fly. Too many last-minute things to take care of before Christmas! I love flying at night though. There aren’t many other airplanes flying around, so you get a lot more of the sky to yourself. ATC can be much more accomodating as well for the same reasons. I’ve been able to fly over Boston with no trouble at night, while during the day it’s much more difficult to get similar clearances.
The Solstice also made me think back to when I was training, and all those times I would scour the regs to determine my night currency requirements according to the Federal Aviation Regulations. Back then, we didn’t have the “internet”. Back then, we had to actually look in “books”. And we liked it! Now, the regs are searchable online, and I like this more!
Since this can be a pretty confusing topic, I’ll sum-up…
FAR 1.1 has the definition of “night”…
FAR 61.57(b) has the night currency requirements
FAR 91.209 has the position and anti-collision light requirements
So the first place to start to find out about night as it pertains to the Private Pilot is the definitions section of the FARs. FAR 1.1 defines night as:
“The time between the end of evening civil twilight and the beginning of morning civil twilight, as published in the American Air Almanac, converted to local time.”
Next is to determine if you are current for taking passengers at night. Part 61 uses different criteria other than simply “night” as defined above. In short, the reg says that you need 3 takeoffs and landings within the preceeding 90 days to a full stop. The takeoffs and landings need to be made between 1 hour after sunset to 1 hour before sunrise.
Finally, Part 91 says that the airplane needs lit position lights and anticollision lights if equipped.
Thanks to all who picked up Gift Certificates for Christmas – I can’t wait to fly with that special someone!
Merry Christmas to all…and to all a good night.