Last Saturday night -- Halloween -- a Canadair CL600 regional airliner hit a deer while landing in Florence, South Carolina. No one on board the twinjet was injured, but even the "minor" damage listed in the NTSB report was likely expensive. And the deer will probably never play the cello again, either. With the changeover to standard time this week, there will probably be an uptick in nighttime flying. Dusting off those skills is a good idea, and your review should include an awareness that airports and runways are attractive to animals -- especially after dark. The pavement retains heat for several hours after sunset. The added warmth would probably attract you, too, if you had to sleep outside in the frosty woods. Wide open clear spaces around runways also cause animals to feel safe from predators that cannot sneak up on them through the brush. And one more thing; November is rutting season -- so deer have more important things on their mind than when and where you decide to land your airplane. So anticipate that there might be unlighted intruders on the runway at night. Some pilots at remote airports go so far as to make a low pass before landing to alert inattentive -- or distracted -- animals. Have a firm idea of when you are committed to land, and be spring-loaded for a go-around should you spot unauthorized traffic at the last minute.
Ever forget to close your VFR flight plan? Here's a pointer from reader Don Karpen.
"I recently read a discussion that outlined ways to for VFR pilots to remember to close out their flight plans -- in an effort to encourage more to file without fear of forgetting. Take a small, folding alligator clip and paint it red or any bright color. Clip it to your kneeboard. After opening your VFR flight plan, clip it to the ignition key. After closing your VFR flight plan, return it to the kneeboard. If you forget at either end, you'll see your error."
Call to action: If you have any tips of your own you'd like to share, or have any questions about flying technique you'd like answered, send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd love to hear from you.