Night Flights ● Equipment: All drones were outfitted with FAA-required anti-collision lighting and battery-powered down lighting. Pilots had been trained to avert their eyes when dealing with the lighting and most let their LoadMasters handle the aircraft and lighting to allow their eyes to stay accustomed to the darkness. ● Time on Target: Time on target for night flights was 40 seconds more which was 25% slower than day flights. Pilots reported difficulty seeing the painted target markings and VO’s reported difficulty judging the position of the aircraft both vertically and horizontally at night. A suggestion was made to light up the target area with car headlights. Another suggestion was dropping chemical lights on the target. The flight times to and from the target were equivalent for day and night, with the night being slightly faster. ● VO Direction: The pilots seemed to want more and/or sooner direction from their VO’s for night flights. Comments such as “talk to me, Goose”, or, “gimme some direction” were overheard in the pilot area. ● Two drones: A recommendation was made for a future test to deploy 2 drones to the same night drop- one with the payload and one (such as the DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise) with either a PA system or a powerful searchlight. This would require an FAA waiver or a public safety COA but could be a good test in a future exercise.
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