A C172 flying at night in Microsoft Flight Simulator.

Exercise/Challenge

VFR

Day vs. Night Flight

Explore the differences between flying traffic patterns in daytime vs. nighttime conditions.

Share this activity with others 

Record your flight. Get in-depth analysis from our instructors.

Take a live, 1-on-1 lesson with a remote flight instructor.

Take off from your local airport and fly several traffic patterns in the daytime.

Then change the time of day to night time and fly several more traffic patterns.

Notice the differences and similarities between night and daytime flying.

Suggested reading: Airplane Flying Handbook (Chapter 11: Night Operations)

Study/practice points:

  • See if you can identify the airport rotating beacon as you’re flying. What colors should you see?
  • What colors are the aircraft’s navigation lights? When do these need to be turned on? What about other lights such as the taxi, landing, and strobe lights? (See AIM 4-3-23. Use of Aircraft Lights)
  • Explore the functionality of Pilot Controlled Lighting. You may need to use a plugin such as this one for X-Plane.
  • What problems may occur during approach/landing due to optical illusions?

Receive new activities and sim tips in your inbox

Enter your email address below to receive occasional sim tips, discounts, news about new instructors/courses, and more. No spam—we promise.

Get Help
Free Guides
Get expert help from real-life flight instructors and sim experts.
Join our mailing list to immediately receive:
  • Printable keyboard shortcuts for MSFS & X-Plane
  • The world's easiest G1000 tutorial (full flight)
  • Our MSFS and X-Plane Quick Reference Guides
Later we will also send our landing tips guide, realism tips, and more.