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Night Emergency Landing

Source:, Featuring Wally Moran

Subscriber Question:

"Engine out at night: not many good landing options! What are the pros/cons of the likely options?" - Vic H.


"An engine out at night is something none of us want to face. The only sure bet is an airport, but even if you have an airport within gliding distance, making the landing still takes plenty of skill and a little luck.

Naturally we want to stay away from the lighted areas as those are most likely populated. Some people suggest you go for a black area but the problem with that is you cannot see obstacles.

There are those who like to suggest highways or freeways. Yes, these are sometimes lighted but they also have cars on them. Further, next time you drive on a freeway, look at all the wires, signs and ditches you see. So even if you can miss the cars, there is still a lot of stuff to hit.

In certain areas in the winter, frozen lakes are a bet. At least no obstacles to worry about. Of course there can be issues with snowdrifts and crusted snow but at least one should be able to make a controlled touchdown.

It is extremely important to maintain situational awareness when flying at night and to consider your options before departing. You should consider altering your course to remain near airports."

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