You learned about them when you were studying for your pilot’s license. You can picture the chart. But would you recognize or even spot an ATC light gun signal if you needed to in an emergency? Well, 310 Pilot, Kevin Thorton took off recently to find out. Here’s a quick light-gun refresher before you watch the video.
Light gun signals are used by Air Traffic Control (ATC) towers to direct aircraft if radio communications are out on the ground, if the aircraft has no radio, or communication can’t be established.
- If you can’t establish radio contact with the tower, circle the field and wait for light gun signals.
- If you don’t have radio and it’s daylight, rock your wings to get the tower’s attention, wait for signals, and acknowledge signals by moving the ailerons or rudder.
- At night, get the tower’s attention by turning on a landing light and taxing into a visible position that’s clear of the active runway. Acknowledge light gun signals at night by blinking your landing or navigation lights.
Interestingly, CFI Notebook.net warns that ATC light gun signals can be hard to spot during the day. However, Kevin found that signals from the latest LED signal lights were easily visible both on the ground and in the air. At night, ATC signals were hard to pick out from all the other lights around the tower. Take a look at the video below, see what you think and whether you can beat Kevin’s 98% grade on the light gun signal test. If you can, you’re prepared in case comms act up or cut out.