If you do any flying at night, John Ewing has written a lengthy post about night flying and night flying regulations that is well worth reading – even if you are not based in the USA.
John began his post by noting that night flying can be extremely enjoyable as for starters, there is often less aircraft flying while ATC tends to be more relaxed. Moreover, the weather also tends to be calmer and it’s a great time to practice simulated instrument flying.
If you are a US based pilot, John noted that unlike most ICAO countries, US regulations will generally permit private pilots and above to fly at night without having to get a special rating. However, there are plenty of complicated regulations regarding the logging of night flight as well as the maintaining night recency of experience.
Hence, John then went into extensive detail about these convoluted night flying regulations as well as some different resources that pilots can use to determine just when nighttime begins and ends. He also noted that the FAA contains several definitions of or references to night and nighttime and these definitions are not all found in one place. Finally, John mentioned a couple of iPad apps that tell you when its nighttime plus two accidents involving night flight – one involving a pilot who was color blind and the other occurring at a time that was not “officially” nighttime according to FAA rules but had nighttime like flying conditions.
John ended his post by saying that there is plenty more that goes into safe night flying besides obeying the regulations and understanding when nighttime begins and ends. However and especially if you are a US based pilot who is thinking of night flying, John’s lengthy post is well worth reading.