Night Emergencies Night Emergencies

   Perhaps the pilot's greatest concern about flying a single engine airplane at night is complete engine failure, even though adverse weather and poor pilot judgment account for most serious accidents.

   If the engine fails at night, the first step is to maintain positive control of the airplane - do not panic. A normal glide should be established and maintained and the airplane turned toward an airport or away from congested areas. A check should be made to determine the cause of the engine failure such as the position of magneto switches, fuel selectors, or primer. If possible, the cause of the malfunction should be corrected immediately and the engine restarted. Orientation with the wind direction also should be maintained to avoid a downwind landing. The landing lights should be checked at altitude and turned on in sufficient time to illuminate the terrain or obstacles along the flightpath. If the landing lights are unusable and outside visual references are not available, the airplane should be held in level landing attitude until the ground is contacted. Most important of all, positive control of the airplane must be maintained at all times - do not allow a stall to occur.