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Any civil pilots in here? (of course there are!) I have a runway question

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  • Member since
    January 2006
  • From: NW Washington
Any civil pilots in here? (of course there are!) I have a runway question
Posted by dirkpitt77 on Monday, February 2, 2015 10:20 AM

    I'd like to go do some night photography of runways at my local general aviation airport. I'd heard that lighting at smaller airports is sort of controlled by the aircraft approaching it, and that runway lights may not stay on all night, with the exception of the rotating beacon. Is this accurate? Is there an ideal time to catch a runway lit up so you can snap it?  

Thanks,

Chris

    "Some say the alien didn't die in the crash.  It survived and drank whiskey and played poker with the locals 'til the Texas Rangers caught wind of it and shot it dead."

  • Member since
    March 2009
  • From: Yorkville, IL
Posted by wolfhammer1 on Monday, February 2, 2015 11:12 AM

I thought everyone on this forum was civil.  ;)

  • Member since
    February 2007
  • From: Brunswick, Ohio
Posted by Buckeye on Monday, February 2, 2015 11:18 AM

That is accurate.  Lots of smaller airports don't keep their lights on all night.  A pilot can turn them on by keying his mike on a certain frequency.

  • Member since
    January 2006
  • From: NW Washington
Posted by dirkpitt77 on Monday, February 2, 2015 2:10 PM

Ahhh...so I'd have to check something like Flightaware.com to watch schedules of arriving aircraft at any particular airport. Ok.

    "Some say the alien didn't die in the crash.  It survived and drank whiskey and played poker with the locals 'til the Texas Rangers caught wind of it and shot it dead."

  • Member since
    August 2008
Posted by tankerbuilder on Monday, February 2, 2015 2:41 PM

That's been my past experience , yes .

  • Member since
    March 2010
  • From: MN
Posted by Nathan T on Monday, February 2, 2015 7:30 PM

Most small airports will have the runway lights on all night, but not on full bright. They will either default back to low or medium intensity after someone has clicked them on full bright. Obviously the larger the airport the better your chances are to find the runway lights on full intensity. I'd think the coolest shot would be of a larger runway with the approach lighting all light up.

 

 

  • Member since
    February 2003
  • From: Central Ohio
Posted by Ashley on Tuesday, February 3, 2015 9:10 AM

Go on out to the airport in the daytime and meet the airport manager. Tell them what you want to do and I'd bet they would set it all up for you! If there is a flight school there, they will eventually be doing some night flying, and that will be scheduled in advance. These PCL (pilot controlled lighting) systems are very common at smaller airports without control towers and they do save a lot of electricity and light bulbs! At a larger airport, the lights are more likely to remain on all night, sometimes there is a viewing area ideally situated to get some good shots. Have fun!

Have you flown a Ford lately?

  • Member since
    January 2009
  • From: hamburg michigan
Posted by fermis on Tuesday, February 3, 2015 10:26 PM

As has been stated, most are pilot controlled...However, at the small airport I work at, the lights come on at dusk and will stay on for an hour at medium intensity...after that, it's pilot controlled...3 clicks for low, 5 for medium and 7 clicks for full intensity. (on the airports Unicom frequency)

I'd also highly recommend going to see the aprt manager as well beforehand!

Could save you an interrogation!!!  

  • Member since
    November 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Wednesday, February 4, 2015 2:16 PM

Chris, you didn't say where you live or what airports are near you.  If you live in St. Louis there is a neat situation, there is a parking lot for spectators at west end of main runway, and it is on a hill that overlooks the runway.  I have gotten some neat night shots there.

If you live in a city with a major airport downtown or with high buildings not too far from airport, you can occasionally get good shots from that kind of building/airport arrangement. It is suprising how little angle you need.  After all, on final approach the planes are flying towards the runway at only a three degree angle, so even a fraction of a degree is often adequate!

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    January 2015
Posted by chuxgrounded on Friday, February 6, 2015 6:20 AM

where are you at ????     i work at an airport and can probably get you out at night...

  • Member since
    January 2006
  • From: NW Washington
Posted by dirkpitt77 on Friday, February 6, 2015 3:50 PM

I'm in Fort Collins, CO, Don. Unfortunately the airports near me are pretty flat. I was able to get some neat shots this morning at Fort Collins-Loveland Airport, which is smaller, and a few days ago I drove down to Denver to scope out D.I.A. That's an hour drive, one way, though.

   I have an email in to the Fort Collins airport manager. Turns out you can apply for a security badge for access on to the ramp, so I  might try that. Waiting to hear back from him.

Thanks all!

Chris

    "Some say the alien didn't die in the crash.  It survived and drank whiskey and played poker with the locals 'til the Texas Rangers caught wind of it and shot it dead."

  • Member since
    April 2009
  • From: Longmont, Colorado
Posted by Cadet Chuck on Sunday, February 8, 2015 12:42 PM

The airport I learned to fly out of had runway lights made of peanut butter jars with a 25 watt bulb in each.  It was 2000 feet long.  I only tried a night landing once, with my instructor!

Computer, did we bring batteries?.....Computer?

  • Member since
    November 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Monday, February 9, 2015 8:44 AM

I love flying at night.  Seems to be easier to see other traffic, and I find most airports easier to see at night than during daytime.

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

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