Is this standard in training ??

I am a post solo student at 32 hours. While doing pattern work at night with my CFI , he requested on final that the tower turn off the runway lights. I completed that landing but was a little suprised. He thereafter turned off the plane landing light and then the flood light. After discussion he told me that at a non towered airport with electrical failure in the plane that i wouldent be able to turn on the lights. I understand the purpose for this exercise but wonder what others on the forum think ?

First, I remember having gone through similar training. I wouldn’t comment on this particular exercise not knowing the field or surrounding terrain. For example, I wouldn’t allow anyone to do that to me in the mountains with trees on both ends of the runway. I would permit it on my home field.

If you think your experience is a bit sketchy, how about this one. I was flying touch and goes during my primary training with a CFI in a C172. On the downwind, he tells me take my hands off the yoke and feet flat (no rudder) and land the plane. I said I could land the plane but not on the runway as I couldn’t bank. Make a long story short, I was able to land the plane using trim tab for pitch and opening the door of the C172 to bank as needed. True story.

Personally, I think it’s a good exercise to practice with a CFI, especially on a large wide runway. There are a number of these “tricks” which good CFIs occasionally pull (a recent thread discussed making students fly the pattern without an airspeed indicator), that can come in handy someday. My primary instructor didn’t do the no-runway-lights thing but I had a later instructor do it during a BFR - it had never occurred to me before then but I think it’s a useful exercise…

Absolutely necessary to do for night training. Thats why you carry a flashlight. .

It never happened to me! And I do carry a flashlight which is a normal size.

After reading this post I am going to buy myself a better flashlight!!!

It seems some competion is developing for Dennis

very good


This was spontaneous!

I would never dare competing with Dennis!!! [6]

and when (s)he also turns off the panel lights and you have to fly with a flashlight held in your teeth, wouldn’t you rather have experienced that with an instructor than by yourself?

My primary instructor used to make me land in pretty high crosswinds. He said that if I ever HAD to, I would at least know that I was ABLE to do so. That’s what the no light exercise is for.

I think that is a GREAT exercise. I hope he set it up multiple times so that you got proficient at landing under those conditions!

I do similar but probably more extensive lighting failures exercises with my students during their night training. We do multiple landings using a matrix of four states:

(1) Landing light and runway lights - normal landing conditions

(2) runway lights but no landing light - abnormal situation but not an emergency. Simulates landing with a burned out landing light (happens sometimes, especially with filament bulbs)

(3) landing light but no runway lights - abnormal situation but not an emergency. Simulates untowered field when PCL not working, or any field during a power outage; also simulates off-airport landings at night

(4) no landing light and no runway lights - “all hell broke loose”, but still not an emergency unless you need to get on the ground NOW. Student is SUPPOSED to analyze the situation and recognize the futility of this scenario unless the night is clear with a bright moonlit runway, then articulate the need to divert to an alternate airport (I don’t actually let them land in this combination)

I also fail all the interior and instrument lights (including “failing” all PFD, MFD and GPS displays using black cardboard overlays), at multiple points during night flights - yes, sometimes during landing practice - so that the student has to learn to fly and land using some sort of flashlight or other emergency lighting system (chemical light “glow sticks”, visor lights, etc.)

As for turning off the runway lights on final. I’m more draconian than that. We do the landing exercises in the traffic pattern at my “home” towered field. I pre-arrange with the tower controller (and use my handheld to “give the word”) to turn off ALL the approach, runway, PAPI, and taxiway lights while the student is still climbing out on the departure / upwind leg. That way, when the student turns crosswind, there is nothing but a black hole in the terrain and an airport beacon to identify the position of the airport. Then the student has to find the runway by orienting him/herself with ground landmarks, line up on it, and land.

Of course, we pre-flight / ground brief all these possible events and how to react to them before going flying, so the student has a really good idea of how to handle it before he / she has to put it into practice.


Those are good exercises. This one in particular:

seems very familiar. When I had my SR20 (the original G1 style with the filament bulb mounted in the cowl air intake), it seemed like one out of every 4 or 5 night landings was made without a landing light, and in almost all cases the light was working fine on takeoff! It may not have been that bad in reality but I sure got proficient at landing without the landing light.

The harder part was taxiing on dark nights at those airports without taxiway lights!

No need to hold the flashlight in your mouth. Just get one of these.

They also have an aviation version with red and white lights.

Even better, see if you can cajole LoPresti out of one of these with their logo.

Or get something like one of these and clip it to the sun visor on the pilot’s side, then bend the neck to point the light wherever you need it (works for me!)

You can usually find similar lights for under $5 in the checkout areas of most discount stores (Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Target, Big Lots, etc.) Cheap, but VERY effective!

While I’m at it, here is a great gizmo for organizing spare batteries, pens, etc. right above the pilot’s head. Just slip it around the sun visor blade and stuff pens, pencils, AA or AAA batteries, the above-mentioned LED lights, etc. into the little loops. Has the added advantage of providing a black area on your sunvisor for completely blocking the sun yet can be removed just by pulling it off if needed - without spilling the contents of the loops.