Night cross-country

I usually take my private pilot students to Apple Valley (KAPV) for their night dual cross country flight (after having done a day dual cross-country flight, as well as their first night flight). It meets the 50nm requirement from El Monte and helps give a perspective on how night flight outside of the Los Angeles basin can be a very different feeling from flying around Los Angeles. In preparation for the flight, students should make sure they have a current LA Sectional chart, prepare a navigation log for the flight there, and be able to answer the questions listed below. Just prior to the flight, students should get a standard weather briefing and be able to make a go/no-go decision and discuss any challenges the weather may present.

  1. What route will we take?
  2. How high do we need to be and at what points to safely clear terrain and obstacles?
  3. What checkpoints (visible at night) along the way will allow us to know where we are (freeway intersections, airports, etc)
  4. How do we navigate (not using GPS)?
  5. Is there any airspace we need to stay clear of along the route?
  6. How do we find APV in the dark?
  7. What is APV near?
  8. Anything we need to be concerned about  when getting near or flying in the pattern at APV?
  9. How long will it take us to get there (take into account climb and descent, not just cruise speed)
  10. How much fuel to get there and back and get the necessary landings?
  11. What runway are we likely to use when we get to APV, considering forecast winds and available runways; are all the runways usable at night?
  12. What type entry to the pattern?
  13. What pattern will we fly?
  14. How do we find out about clouds and winds at or near APV?
  15. Take a look at – what is automated unicom?
  16. If were were worried about clouds moving in prior to our return to EMT, how could we get an update on weather information after departing APV?

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