What Lights Do You Use During Daytime VFR?
One of our club members, an eye surgeon, gave an interesting talk last night on the physiological issues relating to VFR scanning. One of the remarkable statistics he cited is that you are 5 times more likely to be involved in a midair collision by being overtaken from behind rather than by being hit head-on. That led to a lively discussion on what lights to use during daytime VFR. What do you use?
I currently use only the rotating beacon.
I currently use only the rotating beacon.
Except another Mooney driver, of course, or a Bo, or a Corvalis, or a....well, anything with a turbo in it.
I use the wing-tip strobes during the day because my plane has no rotating beacon. At night I'll flip on the nav and recog lights as well.
Cruise phase: strobes.
In my mind it seems the birds see and avoid all the lights flashing.
Turn strobes on as you enter the active runway and turn them off after you exit the runway.
Strobes on the ground (especially at night) are distracting and possibly disorienting to other pilots (not to mention what it does to night vision).
The argument that it announces to people on the ground that the engine is running doesn't work. If you're in a position where the prop can hit you, you can't see the strobes anyway.
> Pet Peeve - Pilots who leave their strobes on all the time, even while taxing.
> The argument that it announces to people on the ground that the engine is running doesn't work. If
> you're in a position where the prop can hit you, you can't see the strobes anyway.
As a new pilot, this is something I've been thinking about lately. The checklist that I inherited with my plane (which came from a flight school) calls for strobes on prior to engine start and off after shutdown. While there might (or might not) be a safety benefit to that sequence, it seems like that's akin to turning on your headlights before starting your car--it's a pretty big electrical load for the battery to carry in addition to turning the starter. Could mean the difference between a successful start and being stranded, if the battery is weak.
I've been aware that most other planes on the field don't follow this practice. Occasionally, someone will flash their strobes at intersections. I'm in the process of building a new checklist for my plane, and was planning to move the strobes to the pre-takeoff section. Any other arguments for keeping it at startup? (BTW, I don't have a rotating beacon--just a tail strobe that comes on with the wingtip strobes.)
> Pet Peeve - Pilots who leave their strobes on all
> the time, even while taxing.
> Turn strobes on as you enter the active runway and
> turn them off after you exit the runway.
The difficulty with this is that a bunch of Cherokees (mine included) have the beacon and strobes on the same switch. I was always taught that the beacon should be running when the engine is (based on earlier comments, I am not alone). In this case, the beacon (actually, a tail strobe as I do not have an old style rotating beacon) can seen by anyone who could potentially be hit by the prop.
The question becomes, does visibility/safety trump other pilot's pet peeves? The catch-22 is that, if there's anyone around on the ramp whom I might want to know the prop is turning, I also run the risk of annoying them with the strobes.
I don't have as big a problem with the red tinted strobes but I really prefer the LED "rotating" beacon. It's VERY visible, low current draw, reliable and won't destroy other pilot's night vision.
> The problem is that many strobes were aftermarket installations and in many cases the mechanic simply
> tapped into the Anti-Collision Light circuit instead installing a separate switch. I've even seen
> planes where the strobes were tied into the Nav Lights (really lazy mechanic). I'm a firm
> believer that strobes should be on a separate switch.
Guilty, though I'd blame inexperience/ignorance instead of laziness in my case. The strobes were just installed last month during my annual, and since there were no empty switches in the panel, and the existing anti-collision circuit already had the tail strobe and nav lights tied together, my mechanic's recommendation to add the wing tip strobes to that same circuit seemed logical enough to me (maybe he made the recommendation because he'd seen Piper factory installs wired that way, like houston's plane). Had I been smart enough to consider it, I suppose I might have replaced the existing anti-collision light switch with a new split switch to give the wing tip strobes their own circuit. Live and learn. Maybe I'll make that change at annual time next year.
If I do, I'll need a good way to cram labels in for my growing list of split switches. Wingtip landing light / cowl landing light in one pair, (Nav lights + tail strobe) / wing tip strobes in another pair. No obvious elegant solution to that problem...
On the ground: rotating beacon only.
On my old ride, a Dakota, the only choices were strobes and landing light. I'd have the strobes on when on the ground - except when in the runup area at night.
FWIW, 91.209 says that if your aircraft has anticollision lights you must turn them on. You aren't given the option of only turning them on sometimes.