What the Winter Solstice Means for Flight

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. 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. 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 Radian. The Night Radian has integrated high-visibility LED lights that allow enthusiastic modelers to fly during both day and night! It uses these LED lights to offer fliers 100-plus 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!



  1. I do not fly on December 21 but I fly on December 31 from 11:58 to 0:03 on January every year for the last 23 years.

    Jay Stargel
    AMA 14497

    1. Hi Jay!
      That sounds like an awesome way to ring in the New Year. Hope your December 31st flight goes well this year!
      Thanks for sharing! 🙂

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