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Potential Flight Hazards

depth−of−field loss is by wearing amber tinted lenses

(also known as blue blockers). Special note of

caution: Eyewear is not ideal for every pilot. Take

into consideration personal factors − age, light

sensitivity, and ambient lighting conditions.

3. So what should a pilot do when all visual

references are lost?

(a) Trust the cockpit instruments.

(b) Execute a 180 degree turnaround and start

looking for outside references.

(c) Above all − fly the aircraft.

f. Landing in Low Light Conditions. When

landing in a low light condition − use extreme

caution. Look for intermediate reference points, in

addition to checkpoints along each leg of the route for

course confirmation and timing. The lower the

ambient light becomes, the more reference points a

pilot should use.

g. Airport Landings.

1. Look for features around the airport or

approach path that can be used in determining depth

perception. Buildings, towers, vehicles or other

aircraft serve well for this measurement. Use

something that will provide you with a sense of height

above the ground, in addition to orienting you to the


2. Be cautious of snowdrifts and snow banks −

anything that can distinguish the edge of the runway.

Look for subtle changes in snow texture or shading to

identify ridges or changes in snow depth.

h. Off−Airport Landings.

1. In the event of an off−airport landing, pilots

have used a number of different visual cues to gain

reference. Use whatever you must to create the

contrast you need. Natural references seem to work

best (trees, rocks, snow ribs, etc.)

(a) Over flight.

(b) Use of markers.

(c) Weighted flags.

(d) Smoke bombs.

(e) Any colored rags.

(f) Dye markers.
(g) Kool−aid.
(h) Trees or tree branches.

2. It is difficult to determine the depth of snow

in areas that are level. Dropping items from the

aircraft to use as reference points should be used as a

visual aid only and not as a primary landing reference.

Unless your marker is biodegradable, be sure to

retrieve it after landing. Never put yourself in a

position where no visual references exist.

3. Abort landing if blowing snow obscures your

reference. Make your decisions early. Don’t assume

you can pick up a lost reference point when you get


4. Exercise extreme caution when flying from

sunlight into shade. Physical awareness may tell you

that you are flying straight but you may actually be in

a spiral dive with centrifugal force pressing against

you. Having no visual references enhances this

illusion. Just because you have a good visual

reference does not mean that it’s safe to continue.

There may be snow−covered terrain not visible in the

direction that you are traveling. Getting caught in a no

visual reference situation can be fatal.

i. Flying Around a Lake.

1. When flying along lakeshores, use them as a

reference point. Even if you can see the other side,

realize that your depth perception may be poor. It is

easy to fly into the surface. If you must cross the lake,

check the altimeter frequently and maintain a safe

altitude while you still have a good reference. Don’t

descend below that altitude.

2. The same rules apply to seemingly flat areas

of snow. If you don’t have good references, avoid

going there.

j. Other Traffic. Be on the look out for other

traffic in the area. Other aircraft may be using your

same reference point. Chances are greater of

colliding with someone traveling in the same

direction as you, than someone flying in the opposite


k. Ceilings. Low ceilings have caught many

pilots off guard. Clouds do not always form parallel

to the surface, or at the same altitude. Pilots may try

to compensate for this by flying with a slight bank and

thus creating a descending turn.


7110.65R CHG 2