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Pilot Training: Using Your iPad in the Dark

By: The CTS Team   •  

Pilot training and flying in the dark is easier on the eyes with a simple adjustment to the iPad

Oh how I dislike the weeks of pilot training in a dark simulator. It’s hard enough trying to find all the switches and knobs in the dark, but trying to read the approach charts and maps is challenging at best. 

I know that the most advanced sims are now flown in daylight conditions, but I never seem to be training in the most advanced airplanes. The new trend of flying with an iPad is definitely helping to improve my training struggles. And I just learned something new about using my iPad at night, so I thought I would share.

Gone are the days of holding a flashlight in your mouth while attempting to read a chart and fly in the dark - iPads have solved that problem. But if you don’t know how to switch over to night mode, you may have the opposite problem: too much light - bad news when you need every bit of your night vision to safely fly the plane (or sim).

Fortunately for pilots, Apple has already thought of our night vision and how to preserve it. Remember learning about night vision and the rods and cones in our eyes? I vaguely remember that the rods are much more effective in low-light conditions at night and that the rods are less affected by red light, meaning you will be able to keep your “night vision” longer when you are around red sources of light.

Your iPad has settings that allow you to tint the screen red to help with this. Once your eyes adjust to the dark environment, using red light will prolong your night vision, so it is highly recommended that you use the red background screen during night flights or night sim sessions.

To make the change, go to General > Display Accommodations > Color Filters and then select Color Tint. Scroll down and move the Hue Slider all the way to the right. Then simply turn up the intensity as desired. 

One more little secret that I didn’t know about is the triple click invert colors feature, which allows you to quickly press the home button at the bottom of your iPad 3 times to instantly invert the colors of the screen. This feature can be used to use the red light filter, so after you have the red color set as desired, the following will allow you to use the triple click: Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Accessibility Shortcut > Invert Colors. Now you should be able to press the home button 3 times to go from normal screen to red screen quickly.

No more stressful pilot training sessions in a dark simulator because you can’t read the charts. Now if we could just find a way to eliminate the rest of the stress with simulator training.

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