It isn’t very surprising to learn that weather affects flight in more ways than one might think. One interesting winter weather phenomenon in particular has its own effects on flying.
The Winter Solstice occurs annually on either December 21 or December 22. The Winter Solstice this year will be on Wednesday, December 21, 2022. It is the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere; it is also the longest night of the year. This doesn’t mean that the number of hours in the day changes; there will still be 24 hours in the day. It just means that this day has the fewest hours of sunlight out of all the days in the year.
So, what does this mean for us as AMA Members and modelers?
It just means that there is less time in the day for flying on December 21st this year. However, it gives you plenty of time for night flying during the Solstice!
Flying at night can be lots of fun, as long as you follow the rules and regulations for night flying.
When you fly at night, AMA requires that aircraft be equipped with anti-collision lighting that can be seen from 3 statute miles away unless it poses a hazard or distraction to the operator. Other lighting must be used in such a way that allows you to determine attitude and direction of flight. Hand-held illumination systems by themselves are inadequate for night flying operations. Night flight presents visual perception challenges. Since your vision and depth perception can be altered in darkness, night flying requires training through AMA.
If you are looking for some reliable models for night flying, we recommend Horizon Hobby’s Night Timber or Night Radian. Both models have integrated high-visibility LED lights that allow enthusiastic modelers to fly during both day and night! The Night Radian uses these LED lights to offer fliers 100+ color, sequence, and timing combinations.
While we really like these models and recommend them, these aren’t your only options! As long as you have a light that fits Civil Twilight requirements, you can fly at night.
Night flying is fine in uncontrolled airspace. However, flying in controlled airspace requires either airspace authorization or a Part 107.
While the Winter Solstice is a weather phenomenon that only affects the Northern Hemisphere once a year, it still has a slight effect on flight. But as long as you’re prepared to fly during the year’s longest night, you can still have a fun time flying!