Imagine its an IFR day, not terrible down to the minimums IFR, but certainly IFR enough that you need to establish on the approach, transition beyond the final approach fix, and expect to break out somewhere along the approach to a visual landing.
You may be flying an ILS or LPV with a glide slope that keeps you descending along a path. But when you break out, do you continue flying that, or do you transition to a visual glide path?
If you are like most of us, you transition largely to a visual completion of the approach, while at the same time trying to generally fly the glide path and laterally course.It’s natural to want to use your own eyes to finish the approach once the runway is in sight.
As long as you can keep the runway in sight, this is a good plan. However, there is one thing that during daylight approach many pilots forget to do.
Turn on the runway lights!
Sure, you probably remember to do this during the night time, for obvious reasons. But do you do it during the daytime? And if not, why bother?
Well, it’s pretty simple when it comes down to it. Many instrument approach served runways have VASI or PAPI indicators that give a visual light based cue for the glide slope the pilot should be flying.
So what’s the pro-tip here?
Turn the lights on prior to passing the final approach fix.
When you do your last check for the approach, such as gear down, flaps down, approach speed, etc. before passing the final approach fix, add “lights on” to the mix.
Turning the lights on at this point will ensure when you break out of the clouds, even during the daytime, that you have given yourself an additional visual cue to follow to keep you established on a glide path to the runway.
I know, it sounds kind of simple. But MANY pilots and students don’t do this and as a pilot, instructor, and DPE, I have seen the simple act of having the lights on help pilots be less likely to deviate from an established approach.
So, next time you do an approach, even in the daytime, kick those lights on to give yourself (or your student) just one more tool in their list of resources to keep them flying a stabilized approach to the runway.