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To strobe or not to strobe... that is the question

Maybe a smoke generator set to make a 1 second burst every 10 to 15 seconds? Not sure how it'd do for PR these green times.

I've got to agree that 'landing lights' can be helpful for seeing aircraft on final when you're holding prior to lining up, especially at an airfield with non-radio traffic.
There's a 1977 report by the USAF Wright Patterson AFB (all 209 pages of it) that shows that strobes DO improve conspicuity in daytime VFR.
Hopefully I can link to it:

But I've just found another report, much more readable and based on more real world evidence, that shows that strobes are ineffective in daytime:


It does also highlight how poor the 'see and avoid' principle really is.
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Maybe instead of strobes, a PilotAware system would be a better investment? It certainly seems to be the way things are moving.
Nothing will guarantee conspicuancy, but every little helps😁


Staff member
Probably unlikely as I trundle gently along although the resulting trails could be quite interesting when playing with stalls and 60 degree turn reversals.
Nice to know someone else like practising slow flight and steep turns.
One of my favourite practices is chandelle turns, or box canyon turns.
I try to paint a series of parallel lines on my GPS track, aligned along some landmark, like a road, and get the lines as close together as possible :)
This discussion is about the benefits of strobes - EC (and which system) deserves a separate thread - if not a different forum! ... but see below.

About Martin's links - I've just skim read the USAF one (I've read and reviewed a lot of documents of that style in my past so I know how to do it) and find two interesting points on pages 142 and 143 of the document:
5.1 "g. Strobe lights will not significantly reduce the potential for mid-air collisions involving Air Force aircraft. The visibility enhancement characteristics of the strobe light when compared to the mid-air threat environment, offer very little, if any, added protection against midair collisions."
"5.2 CONCLUSIONS a. Analysis fails to support high intensity strobes for the reduction of the daytime mid-air collision potential with present day technology."

I rest my case m'lud.

However... 5.1"f. Aircraft can be detected at ranges three times greater when the pilot knows the approximate location of the intruding aircraft." supports the use of a radar traffic service (if you can get one) or EC (but which??? - please answer in a different thread.)
Thanks Joan. Yes, now I've read it properly the Australian report references the Wright-Pat one and comes to that overall conclusion.
My own experience is that strobes don't really help to spot traffic, but help you to follow it by eye once you know it's there.


Cross Country Pilot
Maybe instead of strobes, a PilotAware system would be a better investment? It certainly seems to be the way things are moving.
Nothing will guarantee conspicuancy, but every little helps😁
Funny you should mention that... but the postman delivered that very product to me this morning... and courtesy of the CAA, I'm getting £250 back on the total cost!

I'm genuinely surprised at how much this has caused debate in our little community. I for one am really keen to be as conspicuous as I can possibly be... whether that's with PA, a transponder, FLARM, LED lights or a strobe system... hell... I'd even build a smoke system into my aircraft if it got that far... but I think for me... I'm going to go with PA, SkyEcho and a set of decent Strobes for now. I can add to that later on as things progress (and the coffers refill!).

The question is, which strobes to go for! Too many choices.
In addition to my strobes I fly with an LED landing light which can strobe, I've been told that in circuit it does attract attention, the power usage is minimal therefore I fly with it constantly on and strobing.
Fortunately there has been for me and the other 5 aircraft with these lights fitted no radio interference but I know of someone who fitted both (as you get 2 lights for the money) to his ssdr and does get radio interference.

Here's where mine are located, sorry not a great pic but you can see them on the spat. I'll try and get something better..
The switch is a carling off-on-mom which can be hard to get, here's the part number


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Cross Country Pilot
I looked into strobes in some depth recently and the ones that I thought were best were the CN lighting ones from Smooth Aviation.