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Refueling at night without NVG - any lights to help?


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So in an unfortunate sequence of events this evening I rammed the tanker I wanted to refuel from because I couldn't see it coming. Are there any external lights you can use to help you? Landing light is on the front gear which is retracted so that's no use. And this is without NVG btw.

 

P.S. I think DCS nights are waaay too dark, especially clear nights, even without a moon, they are unrealistically dark.

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So in an unfortunate sequence of events this evening I rammed the tanker I wanted to refuel from because I couldn't see it coming. Are there any external lights you can use to help you? Landing light is on the front gear which is retracted so that's no use. And this is without NVG btw.

 

P.S. I think DCS nights are waaay too dark, especially clear nights, even without a moon, they are unrealistically dark.

 

When you have the external lights switched on, there is a light on the refueling probe that illuminates the basket.

 

 

Cheers,

 

Ziptie

i7 6700 @4ghz, 32GB HyperX Fury ddr4-2133 ram, GTX980, Oculus Rift CV1, 2x400 gig SSD drives (one soley for DCS OpenBeta standalone) Thrustmaster Warthog HOTAS, Thrustmaster Cougar MFDs

 

Airframes: A10C, A10CII, F/A-18C, F-14B, F-16C, FC3. Modules: Combined Arms, Supercarrier. Terrains: Persian Gulf, Nevada NTTR, Syria

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So in an unfortunate sequence of events this evening I rammed the tanker I wanted to refuel from because I couldn't see it coming. Are there any external lights you can use to help you? Landing light is on the front gear which is retracted so that's no use. And this is without NVG btw.

 

P.S. I think DCS nights are waaay too dark, especially clear nights, even without a moon, they are unrealistically dark.

 

I don't think dark nights are causing the problem, the tanker nav lights are misbehaving. From long distance to about 5 or 4 nm the tanker light are fused into one big blob. (I use S3's as tankers). You can't miss it. Once you close the range to 4nm, the blob disappears. I usually initiate a radio contact at at least 20nm, so if this is a trigger for the tanker to turn its lights on, I do it early. From 4nm to around 0.3 nm... nothing! Within 0.3 the nav lights become visible.

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I've had intermittent problems with the probe light. When it works, it works well. And I agree, nav lights can act weird as well.

 

BUT - DCS has the best simulation of flying at night I've ever seen in any desktop flight sim. It IS dark on a moonless night over the ocean. I mean, it's black. That glow you find in other flight sims is what's unrealistic. There should be no ground or water, no sky (down low in the haze; up at altitude you'll have stars), no visible horizon... nothing. Just black. DCS gets it right and I sure hope they don't change it!

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I've had intermittent problems with the probe light. When it works, it works well. And I agree, nav lights can act weird as well.

 

BUT - DCS has the best simulation of flying at night I've ever seen in any desktop flight sim. It IS dark on a moonless night over the ocean. I mean, it's black. That glow you find in other flight sims is what's unrealistic. There should be no ground or water, no sky (down low in the haze; up at altitude you'll have stars), no visible horizon... nothing. Just black. DCS gets it right and I sure hope they don't change it!

 

I respectfully disagree. As an airline pilot I fly over the ocean on a moonless night quite often. If I focus my vision outside I can still have a good perception of space around me. Normally you can still make out the horizon (roughly) and ground or water beneath you (roughly). I mean it's good enough to orient yourself anyway. It's not pitch black like being inside a bunker with no lights. So I maintain that DCS's pitch black nights are too black.

 

And with regards to the tanker - yes, that was my issue, not seeing it at all as I closed the gap below 4nm until it was too late as I came in a bit hot. So some better nav lights would go a long way.

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I respectfully disagree. As an airline pilot I fly over the ocean on a moonless night quite often. If I focus my vision outside I can still have a good perception of space around me. Normally you can still make out the horizon (roughly) and ground or water beneath you (roughly). I mean it's good enough to orient yourself anyway. It's not pitch black like being inside a bunker with no lights. So I maintain that DCS's pitch black nights are too black.

 

And with regards to the tanker - yes, that was my issue, not seeing it at all as I closed the gap below 4nm until it was too late as I came in a bit hot. So some better nav lights would go a long way.

 

I can imagine how much fun it is to fly over calm water, perfectly clear sky and away from any other light sources. The sky is full of stars and so is the water:D

 

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I respectfully disagree. As an airline pilot I fly over the ocean on a moonless night quite often. If I focus my vision outside I can still have a good perception of space around me. Normally you can still make out the horizon (roughly) and ground or water beneath you (roughly). I mean it's good enough to orient yourself anyway. It's not pitch black like being inside a bunker with no lights. So I maintain that DCS's pitch black nights are too black.

 

And with regards to the tanker - yes, that was my issue, not seeing it at all as I closed the gap below 4nm until it was too late as I came in a bit hot. So some better nav lights would go a long way.

 

Well, I've done the same thing for about 25 years now. Also done some blue water sailing, and I remember nights so dark you - literally - could not see your hand in front of your face. Have you ever flown over the ocean lower than the 30s, down in the haze?

 

On a moonles night, there's no light source at all. Where would any light come from, to show you a horizon? On a dark night... it's just not there.

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Well, I've done the same thing for about 25 years now. Also done some blue water sailing, and I remember nights so dark you - literally - could not see your hand in front of your face. Have you ever flown over the ocean lower than the 30s, down in the haze?

 

On a moonles night, there's no light source at all. Where would any light come from, to show you a horizon? On a dark night... it's just not there.

 

I also flew professionally, and had a job flying cargo at night (at low altitudes; around 10,000 feet). I agree that DCS World's depiction of night flying is spot on! On those nights where the moon was out I could see some details, but on moonless nights the world is indeed very very dark. I'm really impressed with how accurate DCS World is in this regard.

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I've done a fair bit of night tanking on the Hornet (my hobby, lately). My suggestion is to use A-A TACAN and slow your approach once you reach 5nm. You should be able to sight the tanker within 2nm easily depending on cloud cover. Try to maintain closure rate <20 knots when forming up, sometimes I use NVG to help if it's really dark. Make sure you turn off the NVG when opening the probe, about the same time you call for pre-contact.

 

The probe lighting is actually very good, you should be able to maintain formation easily without NVG just using the probe light alone. If you have difficulty with this, then I suggest you practice some day (or dawn/dusk as an interim step) to gain familiarity

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Few suggestions on my side:

1) use Tacan in A/A mode in order to have an idea about where tanker is and how far from it you are

2) mantain the proper delta of speed when approaching it. From the first radio request you should know from the tanker its altitude and its speed. Use this information

3) mantain -1000 ft from it until you have a visual (or radar) contact with him

4) from first radio contact, when you request him for refuel, it should turn on lights

5) use NVG in case you are not still able to locate it outside

6) as a very last resource you can work on gamm in DCS options or brightness in your monitor settings

 

Hope this helps

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