Pilot's tip of the week

No Lights on Final


Subscriber question:

"I flew a perfect instrument approach into a non-towered airport at night, broke out of the clouds at minimums, and there was no runway in sight. It happened twice—and I'm sure I turned on the lights the second time. Any advice? " — Nicolas B.


“A night instrument approach to landing isn’t likely if you can’t find the runway after going visual at a non-towered airport or an airport where the tower is closed. A little bit of planning is required to be sure you can see the runway lights and land after going visual on the approach.

Be aware that the frequency for light activation is not necessarily the same as the CTAF. This information is available on instrument approach plates. Be sure to check NOTAMS before flight for any changes or restrictions to light availability.

When approaching an airport with pilot-controlled lighting at night, turn the lights on while crossing the final approach fix, and if possible, confirm their activation with ground personnel or another aircraft on the ground. Frequency planning and radio set up is required in many cases since as many as three frequencies may be involved: Approach, CTAF, and lighting activation frequency.”

Have you ever been unable to find the airport at night (or in low visibility IFR) because the lights weren't on?

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