Visibility ? See and be seen ?

HomeBuiltAirplanes.com

Help Support HomeBuiltAirplanes.com:

N804RV

Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
Joined
Jun 9, 2013
Messages
306
Location
Mount Vernon, WA
There was a study on aircraft visibility done in New Zealand years ago with small military piston trainers. IIRC, they tried white, black, yellow, and orange and each one had advantages in different conditions: looking up against a blue or overcast sky, looking down against an earth or forest or water background, etc. I think in the end they chose yellow but painted the movable control surfaces black to make it more interesting. Something like that, or maybe white with bright orange control surfaces and cowling, certainly couldn’t hurt.

View attachment 105614 View attachment 105613
The Navy actually referenced that study quite a bit when I was flying as a SAR crew chief. International orange alternating with a darker color seemed to work best for spotting aircraft as they maneuvered. if the aircraft was constant heading/attitude at your same altitude, nothing much worked but very bright flashing lights.
 

Old Koreelah

Member
Joined
Oct 4, 2013
Messages
21
Location
Australia
After lots of research I painted mine bright yellow on top. In most situations it should be noticeable from above. (Except above some crops; I once flew high over a yellow Air Tractor and he disappeared as he made spray runs over a field of Canola.)

I used mid green on the bottom, so that it would be stand out against a bright sky or cloud.
In case I prang it and end upside down there is also a wide yellow outline under the wing and the tail plane is white underneath.

As well as Kuntzelman strobes on wingtips, I also run bright Wig Wags, controlled by this great little unit:

 
Last edited:

cluttonfred

Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
Joined
Feb 13, 2010
Messages
8,072
Location
Fort Walton Beach, Florida, USA
For low-cost options, very bright LED bulbs and auxiliary lights are available very inexpensively and can be driven with something as simple as a solid-state flasher for LEDs for car or motorcycle turn signals
 

cluttonfred

Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
Joined
Feb 13, 2010
Messages
8,072
Location
Fort Walton Beach, Florida, USA
If anyone can find the actual RNZAF report, I’d appreciate a link. I used to have a bad pdf scanned from photocopy but can’t seem to find it.

The Navy actually referenced that study quite a bit when I was flying as a SAR crew chief. International orange alternating with a darker color seemed to work best for spotting aircraft as they maneuvered. if the aircraft was constant heading/attitude at your same altitude, nothing much worked but very bright flashing lights.
 

Voidhawk9

Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
Joined
Mar 26, 2012
Messages
488
Location
Timaru, NZ
Interestingly the RNZAF has since moved to 100% black, when they replaced the CT-4s with Texan IIs.
RNZAF Texan NZ1407 - 3.jpeg
 

Mad MAC

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 9, 2004
Messages
725
Location
Hamilton New Zealand
If anyone can find the actual RNZAF report, I’d appreciate a link. I used to have a bad pdf scanned from photocopy but can’t seem to find it.
The best public domain writeup i am aware of, would be an article by Jim Rankin, in the New Zealand Sport Aircraft Association magazine Sport Flying, year and month unknown (late 90's maybe). I can't find anything on the DTIC website. I seem to recall they also tried a strobe from an A4K on a CT-4 and found while it worked well, the power draw was excessive.
Any body know the illination requirements for strobes on fast jets?
 

CDNRV7

New Member
Joined
Nov 22, 2014
Messages
2
Location
Saskatchewan Canada
After lots of research I painted mine bright yellow on top. In most situations it should be noticeable from above. (Except above some crops; I once flew high over a yellow Air Tractor and he disappeared as he made spray runs over a field of Canola.)

I used mid green on the bottom, so that it would be stand out against a bright sky or cloud.
In case I prang it and end upside down there is also a wide yellow outline under the wing and the tail plane is white underneath.

As well as Kuntzelman strobes on wingtips, I also run bright Wig Wags, controlled by this great little unit:

This one works great: LED Strobe, Wig-Wag, and Landing Light Controller
 

JimCrawford

Member
Joined
Nov 30, 2019
Messages
15
Location
Oxford, UK
I was once a member of a group which operated a Chipmunk which had a dark blue fuselage and white flying surfaces. I don't believe this was for visibility but just for attractive simplicity however it always contrasted against any background, sky or surface.
 

Moosedude

Member
Joined
Apr 30, 2020
Messages
6
Wig wag lights and bright LEDs. If you roll your own, it can be done very cheaply. Go on Ebay and search for Cree XM-l2, XHP50.2, and XHP70.2. Those will run, 1100, 2500, and 4000 lumens respectively. My original setup.was 3 of the XML2's with 5 degree lenses and I now run 2 of the 70.2 with 5 degree lenses and 2 of the 50.2 with 25 degree lenses. You can use drivers but run the risk of radio noise. You can use series resistors but make sure you know the exact voltage you are applying to them or you end up leaving alot of lumens on the table. For the wig wag, an electronic, 3 pole flasher and a a simple relay are all you need. I have video of the XML2's and that wig wag setup. All built for under 50 bucks but the files are too large. I'll put them on YouTube and link them here
 

Doran Jaffas

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2019
Messages
412
Any advice or insight as to increasing aircraft visibility ? Particularly from directly head on and directly behind?
Cataract surgery.....all kidding aside, wing tip strobes and a vertical stab strobe. Also landing lights ( LED's ?) turned on in the pattern.
 

n45bm

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2019
Messages
102
Location
Seguin
There was a study on aircraft visibility done in New Zealand years ago with small military piston trainers. IIRC, they tried white, black, yellow, and orange and each one had advantages in different conditions: looking up against a blue or overcast sky, looking down against an earth or forest or water background, etc. I think in the end they chose yellow but painted the movable control surfaces black to make it more interesting. Something like that, or maybe white with bright orange control surfaces and cowling, certainly couldn’t hurt.

View attachment 105614 View attachment 105613
Thousands of yellow Piper Cubs couldn't be wrong.
 

ARP

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 24, 2009
Messages
316
Location
Darenth, Kent / England
Avoided a head on collision by seeing the shadow on the ground of an aircraft invading the airfield circuit and turned immediately onto finals. The silhouette was that of a Spitfire, the pilot of which never saw me at all.
 

Tiger Tim

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 26, 2013
Messages
3,621
Location
Thunder Bay
Avoided a head on collision by seeing the shadow on the ground of an aircraft invading the airfield circuit and turned immediately onto finals. The silhouette was that of a Spitfire, the pilot of which never saw me at all.
Funny, when I’m flying low, slow, and NORDO I often check the area around my shadow too. Never had a run-in with a Spitfire but I was able to predict an intercept from a Bucker Jungmann once that way.
 

ARP

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 24, 2009
Messages
316
Location
Darenth, Kent / England
Funny, when I’m flying low, slow, and NORDO I often check the area around my shadow too. Never had a run-in with a Spitfire but I was able to predict an intercept from a Bucker Jungmann once that way.
As I turned and dived I saw the Spitfire side on and slightly above. I guess with the Merlin engine in front it would limit the forward view at close quarters. The incident was reported and although the Spitfire pilot denied being over the airfield, radar confirmed it as a near miss.
 

Twodeaddogs

Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
1,103
Location
Dunlavin, County Wicklow,Ireland
Twice, when in the circuit at an airfield four miles from a Military Base, where I worked, military helis flew right through the civil airport's circuit. When I got back to the base, I found the pilot of the first heli and he denied it and tried to pull rank, me being a Corporal, until I invited him to deny it in front of his Boss, at which point he apologised. I never found the second pilot but a friend who was a passenger in that heli told me later that the pilot realised his mistake and apologised to him and even admitted it to the Boss when he landed. You can't have enough visibility, especially when, in my experience, civvy pilots don't tend to look out apart from straight ahead or immediately left and right. You really do need to keep an active look out and to make the effort to clear the blind spots.
 

ARP

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 24, 2009
Messages
316
Location
Darenth, Kent / England
Twice, when in the circuit at an airfield four miles from a Military Base, where I worked, military helis flew right through the civil airport's circuit. When I got back to the base, I found the pilot of the first heli and he denied it and tried to pull rank, me being a Corporal, until I invited him to deny it in front of his Boss, at which point he apologised. I never found the second pilot but a friend who was a passenger in that heli told me later that the pilot realised his mistake and apologised to him and even admitted it to the Boss when he landed. You can't have enough visibility, especially when, in my experience, civvy pilots don't tend to look out apart from straight ahead or immediately left and right. You really do need to keep an active look out and to make the effort to clear the blind spots.
The Spitfire pilot was probably too busy showing his paying passenger how it performs at low altitude. They operate in our area on a regular basis and are not normally any problem but with a closing speed of around 300knots not really the time to be unaware of your position.
 

Pops

Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
Log Member
Joined
Jan 1, 2013
Messages
8,928
Location
USA.
Making runs at 10.5 K over an area on my job ( Gov), ( Job required 10.5, 11K or 12K ). Always with ATC, when I get a call that something is coming up very, very fast at my 2 O clock low and might be a Lear by the speed. I look down at 2 O clock and seen a black dot that was not moving, the next instant it had mickey mouse ears. While still looking at it , I hit full left aileron and full down elevator. As I was rolling inverted and nose down a good 45 degs to get out of the way, the Lear's wing tip fuel tank went under my right wing as they were vertical. I spit S out the bottom and lost almost a thousand feet and going in the opposite direction. The controller was very upset to say the least. After we talked and I thanked him for saving our lives , the last thing he said was " I'll take care of him". Person in the rear running the equipment was hurt and bruised up a lot from hitting the ceiling and then the floor.
Lear came from an airport about 15 miles away and had to be way overspeed ( 250 knot limit under 10k) and had not contacted anyone.
 

N804RV

Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
Joined
Jun 9, 2013
Messages
306
Location
Mount Vernon, WA
Twice, when in the circuit at an airfield four miles from a Military Base, where I worked, military helis flew right through the civil airport's circuit. When I got back to the base, I found the pilot of the first heli and he denied it and tried to pull rank, me being a Corporal, until I invited him to deny it in front of his Boss, at which point he apologised. I never found the second pilot but a friend who was a passenger in that heli told me later that the pilot realised his mistake and apologised to him and even admitted it to the Boss when he landed. You can't have enough visibility, especially when, in my experience, civvy pilots don't tend to look out apart from straight ahead or immediately left and right. You really do need to keep an active look out and to make the effort to clear the blind spots.
Kind of a little thread drift here. But, I used to use the flying club's 172 to ferry our SAR pilots to a small municipal strip that was not too far away from our training area. I found out that most of them had ZERO experience with general aviation and non-towered operations.
 
Top