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Aircraft Lights


hilldweller
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I went upstairs last night at about 8 pm to draw the curtains. I glanced out and saw what looked like a extremely bright star in the southern sky.

I found my binoculars and through them was able to make out that it was two separate white lights.

After a couple of minutes I was able to make out port & starboard navigation lights and a flashing white beacon.

It eventually flew overhead at normal civil aviation height and flew due north.

I don't know much about aircraft but do they normally fly with such bright "headlights/landing lights" ?

Perhaps he was a nervous pilot and working on the principle that motorcyclists do when using lights at all times, or perhaps he'd put them on a bit early for a landing at Leeds-Bradford airport.

Any ideas anyone ?

HD

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The following information from Wikipedia,

Landing lights are typically only useful as visibility aids to the pilots when the aircraft is very low and close to terrain, as during take-off and landing. Landing lights are usually extinguished in cruise flight, especially if atmospheric conditions are likely to cause reflection or glare from the lights back into the eyes of the pilots. However, the brightness of the landing lights makes them useful for increasing the visibility of an aircraft to other pilots, and so pilots are often encouraged to keep their landing lights on while in flight below certain altitudes or in crowded airspaces. Some aircraft (especially business jets) have lights that can be operated in a flashing mode when not needed to directly illuminate the ground to enhance the visbility of the aircraft further. One convention is for commercial aircraft to turn on their landing lights when changing flight levels.

So it seems yes they do run them at times other than landing and takeoff.

Technical information They are PAR 64 lamps and 28 volts with a maximum of 600 watts. Very bright!!

The last time I had any contact with them they were being used as stage spot lights (Queen tribute band) They were the lights built into the drummers stand facing the audiance ten of them wired in series so if one failed they all failed. but very bright when on.

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I went upstairs last night at about 8 pm to draw the curtains. I glanced out and saw what looked like a extremely bright star in the southern sky.

I found my binoculars and through them was able to make out that it was two separate white lights.

After a couple of minutes I was able to make out port & starboard navigation lights and a flashing white beacon.

It eventually flew overhead at normal civil aviation height and flew due north.

I don't know much about aircraft but do they normally fly with such bright "headlights/landing lights" ?

Perhaps he was a nervous pilot and working on the principle that motorcyclists do when using lights at all times, or perhaps he'd put them on a bit early for a landing at Leeds-Bradford airport.

Any ideas anyone ?

HD

I once came back from Teneriffe on a night flight and had a window seat alongside the port wing of the Airbus 320.

I seem to remember that there were lights on, on the wing, all the way home back to Manchester airport.

However, when coming into land additional lights were switched on.

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Perhaps he was a nervous pilot and working on the principle that motorcyclists do when using lights at all times.

Now in my motorcycling days I didn't exactly have the lights on all the time, but for safety I did have them on most of the time, even in daylight.

A good motorcyclist always thinks and puts safety first, it's a survival instinct, on a motorbike you are extremely exposed and very vulnerable to injuries in any, even minor and low speed, accident.

Now as most car drivers involved in accidents with motorcycles immediately use the excuse "Sorry mate, I didn't see you" (I thought it was an offence to drive a car with eyesight so bad that you can't read a number plate at 20 yards, - now if you can't see the entire bike and rider, never mind it's number plate, which is so close you are just about to hit it then there is seriously something wrong) and as motorcycles are smaller than cars and can come at you very fast perhaps having headlights on all the time, nervous or not, is a fairly sensible thing to do.

Driving with headlights on all the time seems to be the preserve of Volvo drivers, who will tell you that you can't switch the lights off, they come on automatically when you start the car and that it is a high visibility safety feature, designed with Volvo's high reputation for safety in mind (well, when you're driving something akin to a tank it must be pretty safe to start with). I suspect that the truth of the matter is that Volvo's are made in Sweden and in the northern Arctic part of the country it never gets light at all from September to March so they make them so the lights are always on. Unfortunately when they export them to us where it can be light in the winter months (sometimes) they forget to include an on - off switch for the lights.

Then there are those cars with those awful high intensity bluish coloured lights which are deliberately designed to dazzle the driver of the car in front rather than just let him know you are there. I bet they cause more accidents than they prevent.

However, my main bugbear with lights being on all the time is not to do with headlights or sidelights at all, it's indicator lights.

I always get people in front of me who will signal, a left or a right turn or that they are going to change lane using their indicators but once they have completed their manoever they fail to switch them off, constantly signalling that they are going to move to the left or the right, often for many miles, with no intention of wanting to change course at all. Often the misleading signal is only cancelled when the need arises to use the indicator again to signal a turn in the opposite direction to the previous one, - and that can be a long way down the road can't it. Drive onto the M1, signalling right on the sliproad at junction 1, drive 160 miles north still signalling right all the way but staying in the nearside lane and finally signal left at junction 35 to go onto the sliproad into Meadowhall. It makes trying to overtake them a bit of a "will he pull to the right in front of me or not?" dangerous guessing game and represents very bad driving.

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Driving with headlights on all the time seems to be the preserve of Volvo drivers, who will tell you that you can't switch the lights off, they come on automatically when you start the car and that it is a high visibility safety feature, designed with Volvo's high reputation for safety in mind (well, when you're driving something akin to a tank it must be pretty safe to start with). I suspect that the truth of the matter is that Volvo's are made in Sweden and in the northern Arctic part of the country it never gets light at all from September to March so they make them so the lights are always on. Unfortunately when they export them to us where it can be light in the winter months (sometimes) they forget to include an on - off switch for the lights.

I've just had a look on the AA website and it seems that DRL (Daytime Running Lights) are now required on all cars and light vans built since Feb 2011. I thought it was just the Nordic countries that required them but it seems that DRL's or headlights on at all times vehicle is moving, are required in many different countries in Europe. Apparently they are also required in parts of Portugal which isn't noted for long dark winters.

I must say I haven't noticed them on many new cars apart from high end Beemer's and Audi's.

I live and learn.

HD

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I've just had a look on the AA website and it seems that DRL (Daytime Running Lights) are now required on all cars and light vans built since Feb 2011. I thought it was just the Nordic countries that required them but it seems that DRL's or headlights on at all times vehicle is moving, are required in many different countries in Europe. Apparently they are also required in parts of Portugal which isn't noted for long dark winters.

I must say I haven't noticed them on many new cars apart from high end Beemer's and Audi's.

I live and learn.

HD

Are the DRL lights just normal lights or do they have to be those horrible, very bright, bluish coloured lights that I hate.

I don't fancy having to drive about wearing sunglasses all the time just because the cars around me are using these lights.

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I've just had a look on the AA website and it seems that DRL (Daytime Running Lights) are now required on all cars and light vans built since Feb 2011. I thought it was just the Nordic countries that required them but it seems that DRL's or headlights on at all times vehicle is moving, are required in many different countries in Europe. Apparently they are also required in parts of Portugal which isn't noted for long dark winters.

I must say I haven't noticed them on many new cars apart from high end Beemer's and Audi's.

I live and learn.

HD

Now it looks as though the "Save the World" brigade have dug themselves into a bottomless hole here with their good but misguided intentions.

On the one hand, in their "nanny state" mentality, they want us to be ultra safe on the roads, - and to them that equates to driving around with lights on all the time even in full daylight.

On the other hand they want us to use less fuel, preserve a dwindling natural resource and cut down on pollution caused by burning it.

Clearly they never passed even CSE science / physics as the 2 are totally at odds with each other.

Where do they suppose the energy to light those bulbs comes from?

It comes from the car electrics, - the bulbs are running the battery down faster if they are on, so the alternator has to work harder to keep it fully topped up, which in turn means the engine has to work harder to turn the alternator which then means burning more fuel in the engine, so the energy required to light the bulbs all the time ultimately means greater fuel consumption and more pollution.

A lesson perhaps in "you can't always have everything that you want"

My car, all the cars I have owned and I assume all cars, consume noticably more fuel when being driven with lots of extra electrics switched on than they do without.

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Are the DRL lights just normal lights or do they have to be those horrible, very bright, bluish coloured lights that I hate.

I don't fancy having to drive about wearing sunglasses all the time just because the cars around me are using these lights.

I've just had a look at my own car and found out that it's already fitted with them. They are fitted in the side of the front fog lenses and appear to be standard light bulbs. Not sure of the wattage, the instruction book is a bit vague.

Looked on the car's built in computer and the option to enable them is greyed out. Looked on the net and apparently I need to have the "brain" re-programmed. There's already a relay marked DRL lamps so I guess it's a small job to enable them.

Because the car was built before Feb 2011 I guess it wasn't already enabled.

It seems that most manufacturers are going for high intensity LED strips to reduce carbon emissions.

HD

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I've just had a look at my own car and found out that it's already fitted with them. They are fitted in the side of the front fog lenses and appear to be standard light bulbs. Not sure of the wattage, the instruction book is a bit vague.

Looked on the car's built in computer and the option to enable them is greyed out. Looked on the net and apparently I need to have the "brain" re-programmed. There's already a relay marked DRL lamps so I guess it's a small job to enable them.

Because the car was built before Feb 2011 I guess it wasn't already enabled.

It seems that most manufacturers are going for high intensity LED strips to reduce carbon emissions.

HD

Thanks HD, I will have to check if my car has them as it was registered new in the late 2010 registrations ( 60 plate) and this was still the current registration in February 2011.

High intensity LED strips to reduce a few carbon emissions is it.

Well think how much it will cost the NHS when they have damaged everyones eyesight with them!

Come to think of it, MY eyesight has been damaged by the legislation that imposes these new "low energy" light bulbs on us instead of a good, proper filament lamp. The Government "Ministry of lies and untruths" insists that a 15W Low Energy bulb is every bit as bright as a conventional 100W fillament lamp on the reasoning that a normal bulb wastes 85W of its energy as heat. My own eyes tell me this is not true, the 15W is clearly much dimmer, - even after that annoying wait for it to warm up to maximum brightness. A simple experiment with an old Weston Master V lightmeter confirmed this, - indicating, at the same distance and from the same reflecting surface, that the exposure needed for the filament bulb is over 1 full f-stop less, meaning that it is over twice as bright. I then tried comparing the 15W LE bulb to a lit candle and there wasn't much in it.

Bearing in mind in my job I do a lot of homework at night and a lot of reading low light levels are not good for your eyes, - and yet we have had these ridiculously low powered bulbs imposed on us. They are no better for lighting your house than a candle and at least a candle reaches full brightness quicker. My wife and I refer to the LE bulbs in our house as the "poverty lights"

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I couldn't agree with you more about the low energy lamps. I can't understand why they can't scale them up a bit. Some manufacturers apparently make a 23 watt version but you can't find them in the shops. My wife and I both like a brightly lit room and with a three light fitting fitted with 18/20 watt lamps you still need an additional lamp for reading.

Don't get me started about HID lamps fitted in some cars nowadays. I think they are normally 35 watt metal halide discharge lamps which produce a very compact, extremely intense bright light. They require a solid-state invertor unit to provide the extremely high voltages to provide a hot re-strike. I could have had them on my car but I thought I'd rather save the £800 extra they cost.

It's one thing if some-one with normal lights driving towards you forgets to dip them, but with the HID lights you're blinded for seconds.

HD

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Don't get me started about HID lamps fitted in some cars nowadays. I think they are normally 35 watt metal halide discharge lamps which produce a very compact, extremely intense bright light. They require a solid-state invertor unit to provide the extremely high voltages to provide a hot re-strike. I could have had them on my car but I thought I'd rather save the £800 extra they cost.

It's one thing if some-one with normal lights driving towards you forgets to dip them, but with the HID lights you're blinded for seconds.

HD

I wonder if the French use these high intensity lights on their cars?

The French hate being dazzled when they are driving.

If you take an English car across there as well as having to drive on the "wrong" side of the road you have to fit beam deflectors to your headlights to deflect the beam towards their "pavement side" and not towards oncoming traffic. (Our lights also deflect the light like this as well, but obviously the opposite way to allow for being on the other side of the road)

Further to this, until fairly recently French cars had a slight yellowness to the front lens glass. Not as yellow as the indicator lights but certainly not white and a much warmer colour temperature. It was as though in this country it was more important to be seen and to see where you were going in the dark than it was to dazzle an oncoming driver, but in France it was the other way around.

So I can't see the French liking these bluish high intensity lights, and if they tried to enforce them I am sure they would make a fuss about it.

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It's all confusing really. Some places say all new cars from Feb 2011 must have them, but I've just taken delivery of a new car built in the last few weeks and it doesn't have them. But the minister said in parliament all new types of car would have to have them. So what exactly is the position?

As to continental driving, the people who annoy me are drivers in this country who park facing the 'wrong' way and leave dipped headlights on, which since they dip to the left are straight in your eyes. I flashed an elderly gentleman once who did that and he said he didn't know what I was flashing for, as his headlights were dipped.

I rest my case!

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I wonder if the French use these high intensity lights on their cars?

The French hate being dazzled when they are driving.

If you take an English car across there as well as having to drive on the "wrong" side of the road you have to fit beam deflectors to your headlights to deflect the beam towards their "pavement side" and not towards oncoming traffic. (Our lights also deflect the light like this as well, but obviously the opposite way to allow for being on the other side of the road)

Further to this, until fairly recently French cars had a slight yellowness to the front lens glass. Not as yellow as the indicator lights but certainly not white and a much warmer colour temperature. It was as though in this country it was more important to be seen and to see where you were going in the dark than it was to dazzle an oncoming driver, but in France it was the other way around.

So I can't see the French liking these bluish high intensity lights, and if they tried to enforce them I am sure they would make a fuss about it.

Looking at the technical spec for these lamps the colour temperature of the normal HID lamps is 6,000 degrees centigrade with some of them operating at 8,000 degrees. No wonder some of them look blue, you could get a skin tan standing in front of them.

Definitely no yellow tinge there. If they were made compulsory in the EEC then the French would find a way of ignoring them, just as they always do. They excel at introducing laws that adversely effect other nations but which they blithely ignore themselves.

HD

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It's all confusing really. Some places say all new cars from Feb 2011 must have them, but I've just taken delivery of a new car built in the last few weeks and it doesn't have them. But the minister said in parliament all new types of car would have to have them. So what exactly is the position?

As to continental driving, the people who annoy me are drivers in this country who park facing the 'wrong' way and leave dipped headlights on, which since they dip to the left are straight in your eyes. I flashed an elderly gentleman once who did that and he said he didn't know what I was flashing for, as his headlights were dipped.

I rest my case!

Does new types of car imply new models? In which case it could be many years before all cars are obliged to have them!

Having already commented on poor driving in this country (driving for miles with the indicators on) then parking of cars is even worse. Fully agree with what you say Bayleaf.

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Looking at the technical spec for these lamps the colour temperature of the normal HID lamps is 6,000 degrees centigrade with some of them operating at 8,000 degrees. No wonder some of them look blue, you could get a skin tan standing in front of them.

Definitely no yellow tinge there. If they were made compulsory in the EEC then the French would find a way of ignoring them, just as they always do. They excel at introducing laws that adversely effect other nations but which they blithely ignore themselves.

HD

Now, does the new law specify that as well as your car you will also have to have these "on all the time" lights on your 8mph mobility scooter?

My mum, in her 80's and finding it increasingly difficult to get out, can't even walk in the house without her stick, has just invested in a 4mph mobility scooter and it has been quite liberating for her as she can now go to the shops and the doctors without having to ask for lifts or spend a painful 45 minutes just to walk the 200 yards or so.

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Now, does the new law specify that as well as your car you will also have to have these "on all the time" lights on your 8mph mobility scooter?

My mum, in her 80's and finding it increasingly difficult to get out, can't even walk in the house without her stick, has just invested in a 4mph mobility scooter and it has been quite liberating for her as she can now go to the shops and the doctors without having to ask for lifts or spend a painful 45 minutes just to walk the 200 yards or so.

Glad to hear that your Mum is now mobile once more. I hope she got a good deal on her scooter. It's an unfortunate fact of life that that are some companies making a great deal of money out of less fortunate people. I bought my scooter from a small local firm at a price about half the price quoted by another bigger local firm. It pays to shop around.

If anyone in future has a need for such a thing PM me for details of my supplier.

HD

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Glad to hear that your Mum is now mobile once more. I hope she got a good deal on her scooter. It's an unfortunate fact of life that that are some companies making a great deal of money out of less fortunate people. I bought my scooter from a small local firm at a price about half the price quoted by another bigger local firm. It pays to shop around.

If anyone in future has a need for such a thing PM me for details of my supplier.

HD

She bought it privately, secondhand, and did get a good fair deal.

Fortunately, she has 2 friends on the Arbourthorne who, although they are both younger than my mum, have been reliant on mobility scooters to get around for many years. One of them is actually an old friend of mine who has been partially disabled all his life.

When my mum told them she was thinking of getting a scooter as she was finding it increasingly difficult and painfull to get about they both immediately volunteered to help her find one, check that it was OK, and, after she got it volunteered to go out with her on the scooters together until she got the hang of the controls and had enough confidence to go out on it on her own as my mum had never driven a vehicle before.

It's good that she has got friends that are prepared to go to so much trouble to help someone.

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