PRIVATE - CROSS COUNTRY FLYING

Prior to deciding to go on a flight, how will you complete a personal and situational risk assessment?
The most effective way to accomplish this is through utilizing the PAVE and IMSAFE checklist. The PAVE checklist consists of determining if the Pilot, the Aircraft, the enVironment, and External pressures possess any risks that may be problematic for your flight. The IMSAFE checklist consists of evaluating the pilot specifically for issues that could be problematic for a flight such as feeling any type Illness, currently taking any Medications, under Stress, been recently under the influence of Alcohol, subjected to Fatigue, and the lack of Eating.

Before departing on a cross country flight, what must you become familiar with?
You must become familiar with the weather conditions, performance limitations, fuel requirements, weight and balance calculations, the alternates if the flight cannot be completed, and be familiar with airports of intended use.

Prior to departing on a flight, you should check for any applicable NOTAMs. What would the reasons be for this?
NOTAMs will provide information about taxiway closures, runway closures, changes to charts, TFRs, NAVAID outages, among many other changes/updates.

Are there certain TFRs that are inaccessible through a weather briefing?
Yes, weather briefings will not include information about sporting event TFRs. When an open roof stadium has a seating capacity of 30,000 or more, there will be a TFR that will have a vertical limit of 3,000 feet AGL and have a lateral limit of a 3NM radius, which will exist from 1 hour before to 1 hour after the game. You may fly through these TFRs if you are in contact with ATC and have been given a squawk code.

What should be on board the aircraft during a cross country flight?
Current charts and documents, a navigation log, the weather briefing information, a pen and paper, a flashlight, food and water, and a method of payment for fuel.

What is the purpose of a FAA VFR flight plan?
It's for search and rescue.

Is filing a flight plan required?
No, but it's highly recommended.

What is the process of filing, opening, and closing a VFR flight plan?
To file a flight plan, you can contact FSS via phone or frequency, or file it through DUATS. To open the flight plan, you can contact FSS on the phone or through a FSS frequency. And to close the flight plan, you can call FSS (phone or frequency) or close the flight plan on DUATS (you must close your flight plan within 30 minutes of your intended landing time, or the search and rescue process will begin).

How do you change a flight plan in flight?
You would need to contact the nearest FSS, and put in your request with them. If you're unable to find a FSS frequency on your chart you can contact flight watch on 122.0.

What are the different types of equipment suffixes?
The list is extensive, but the most common are /U (transponder with mode C), /A (transponder mode C and DME), and /G (GPS with mode C transponder).

Is filing a VFR flight plan ever required?
On international flights you would file a DVFR flight plan. D stands for defense. Also sometimes a flight plan is required when flying through some TFRs.

Find a FSS frequency?
FSS frequencies can typically be found above VOR frequency boxes, and at RCOs.

What does 122.1R signify?
This is a FSS frequency associated with a VOR. To communicate on this frequency you must transmit on 122.1R, and receive FSS transmissions over the associated VOR (remember that the VOR volume must be up and the NAV selector must be activated).

What is a RCO?
RCO stands for remote communication outlet. It is an extension of a FSS antenna. This frequency is used for filing, opening and closing FAA flight plans. These frequencies can also be used for getting weather briefings.
What fuel reserves are required for a VFR day and a VFR night flight?
For a day flight you must land at your destination with at least 30 minutes of fuel on board, and 45 minutes of fuel for a night flight. These fuel consumption rates are typically based on a normal cruise power setting.

What are the two definitions of night, and what does each apply to?
When the sun sets all the night regulations come into effect, such as having night equipment on-board the aircraft or landing with 45 minutes of fuel reserves, for example. The other definition is one hour after sunset, in which you may now log nighttime in your logbook.

If the local altimeter setting is unavailable, what can you do?
You can either get an altimeter setting from a nearby airport (recommended to be within 50 NM), or set the altimeter to field elevation.

How will you determine which runway to depart from?
This information could be derived from the information contained in the METAR and TAF, but ultimately the runway in use will be confirmed on the ATIS broadcast.

How do you determine the traffic pattern altitude?  
Typically TPA is 1,000 feet above airport elevation for light single engine aircraft, but you should always consult the A/FD for the exact information.

How do you determine the operating hours of an airport?
You would need to reference the Airport Facility Directory, or the side panel of your aeronautical chart to access this information.

If the tower was closed and the winds were calm, which runway would you depart from?
You would need to reference the AF/D for this information. If the information is not in the AF/D, then you may operate off the most practical runway.

What are noise abatement procedures and how can you get information about these procedures?
Noise abatement procedures are published descriptions about suggested routes (or other types of operating procedures) to fly when operating at an airport to reduce aircraft noise when flying over noise sensitive areas. By conducting a simple internet search about noise abatement procedures for your airport will produce information regarding the various procedures and limitations. Remember to be cautious of how you operate your aircraft, because not adhering to noise abatement limitations can lead to fines and a banning of that aircraft from that airport.

If the runway has tailwind, could you still depart from this runway, and what would be the disadvantage?
Yes you could, traffic permitting. The problem with a tailwind departure is the increased takeoff distance. A tailwind increases takeoff distance more than a headwind of the same velocity decreases distance. Also factor in some airplanes may have a tailwind velocity limitation, such as the Cessna152 limitation is 10 knots.

When you are considering your route of flight what three factors should you think about?
The three factors to consider are terrain, weather, and airspace.

Describe the rules regarding the minimum altitude at which you may fly.
If you're flying over a sparsely populated area, you may fly no lower than 500 feet above the person, property, or vessel. If you're flying over a densely populated area, you may fly no lower than 1000 feet above the highest obstacle and fly no closer than 2000 feet horizontally from the obstacle. In all situations, if an engine failure occurs, you must be able to glide to a suitable landing spot from your cruising altitude.

How high should you fly over mountainous terrain?
The minimum altitude you should fly over mountainous terrain is 2000 feet, but you should also fly higher if there are winds. For example, if the wind speed over the mountain peak is 30 knots, then you should fly 3000 feet above the terrain, or if the wind speed is 40 knots, you should fly 4000 feet above the terrain.

What is CFIT?
CFIT represents Controlled flight into terrain. This occurs when a pilot believes they are clear of terrain, but wrongfully calculates their position. CFIT is most likely to happen during a VFR night flight.

How will you determine which altitude to fly your route at?
First consider which direction you will be flying. If your flight is in an east direction you could choose 3,500, 5,500, 7,500, etcetera. If your flight is in west direction then you would choose 4,500, 6,500, 8,500, etcetera. Then consider the winds. At a higher altitude you will typically have a stronger wind. Another thing to consider is at a higher altitude you will have more gliding distance if your engine were to fail, and you can also see your checkpoints more easily. Another element to consider is the airplane's optimal altitude. To determine the optimal altitude you would look at the cruise performance chart in the POH. Look for which altitude produces the greatest airspeed. For a Cessna 152/172 the altitude is around 8,000. The very last thing to consider is the time to climb to your cruising altitude. For a shorter flight you may not want to climb too high of an altitude because of the long duration of the climb. I prefer to use the rule of thumb that I'll multiply the NMs from airport to airport by 100 to get my approximate altitude. For example, the destination is 50NMs away, I will choose an altitude close to 5,000 feet, so 4,500 or 5,500 feet depending on my direction of flight.

What is the highest altitude a private pilot can fly?
Without an instrument rating and without being on an IFR flight plan, you may only fly up to 17,999 feet.

When is supplemental oxygen required for the flight crew?
The flight crew must use oxygen when flying above 12,500 feet for durations longer than 30 minutes, and at all times when flying above14,000 feet.

What is the oxygen requirement for passengers?
The passengers must be "supplied" oxygen anytime flying above 15,000 feet.

What types of checkpoints should you use for this flight?
These checkpoints need to be easily identifiable from the air such as airports, lakes, and roads.

What are the magenta flags for on the chart?
These are used to identify VFR reporting points used by both pilots and controllers.

Why is there a five letter code beneath these flags?
These five letter codes are used for flight planning and for GPS operations. For flight planning you may input these codes into DUATS (or other similar services), and you may also provide these codes to a flight service station briefer in order to define your route. For GPS operations you may input these codes to go directly to these points, or you can use them to define your route flight.

For every checkpoint on your navigation log, be able to identify each type of airspace that exists from the surface to the highest possible airspace.
Ensure that your instructor covers this question with you prior to your flight test.

While talking to an enroute controller, can you fly through class B, C, or D airspace?
The only airspace you can assume you're allowed to fly into is class C. Class B airspace will always require a clearance, and a class D airspace entry will require coordination with the tower. You should always confirm that you're allowed enter class D airspace.

How will you know when a VOR is undergoing maintenance?
When a VOR is undergoing maintenance the identification Morse code will be removed.

What will you set the power to in order achieve your planned TAS?
The required power setting depends on whether you plan to fly for endurance or range. Once you have determined this, you will need to reference the cruise performance chart to determine the power setting and then you will be able to determine the TAS.

How will you determine if the temperature is standard or not at your cruise altitude?
You would need to know that the standard temperature is 15 degrees Celsius at sea level, and for each 1,000 foot increase in altitude you lose 2 degrees. Based on this information you can determine if the outside air temperature is warmer or colder than standard.

In the cruise performance chart there's a %BHP column. Why is this information useful?
You will need to know the % of BHP to determine your range and endurance on the charts following the cruise performance chart.

How will you determine the compass deviation for your navigation log?
You would need to reference the compass correction card in the aircraft used for the flight.

How will you get wind information for your navigation log (departure, enroute, and arrival)?
Departure winds can be found in the local weather reports for departure (METAR or TAF), the enroute winds would be found in the winds aloft forecast, and the landing winds can be found in preferably a TAF or in the nearest and lowest winds aloft forecast.

What are the following codes for used in your transponder?  7500, 7600, 7700
7500-Hijack, 7600-Loss of communication ability, and 7700-Emergency.

What is the emergency frequency?
The emergency communication frequency is 121.5.

What actions can you take to get help in an emergency?
You can ask anyone on board to help you with looking out for traffic, to fly the airplane while you troubleshoot, and to gather a consensus of what should be done. You can utilize ATC for priority assistance, and have them coordinate ground support services at the destination airport. You can also utilize chief pilots, experienced pilots, and maintenance personnel for troubleshooting assistance and determining a plan of action via phone or frequency.

What is the DECIDE and 3P model?
The DECIDE model consists of Detecting a problem, Estimating the need to react, Choosing the most desirable outcome, Identifying which actions are needed to make the change, Doing the needed actions, and Evaluating the outcome. The 3P model accomplishes the same goal as the DECIDE model but has been abbreviated to contain Perceiving a change, Processing the actions needed to handle the change, and Performing those actions.
Both of these models are used to continually evaluate problems that arise in flight or on the ground in order to determine the various options which are available so that you may be able to achieve the safest outcome.

On departure at 500 feet AGL you have an engine failure, what will your initial reactions consist of? And what would you do differently at 1000 AGL?
At 500 feet you will not have sufficient altitude in order to return to the runway under most circumstances. In this situation you would proceed to a predetermined landing spot ahead of the aircraft. Since you are doing an off runway landing you would want to shut off all fuel supply to the engine and complete the memorized checklist.
At 1000 feet you will have enough altitude in order to return to the runway under most circumstances. One factor that will determine if you can glide back to the runway is your climb out airspeed and bank used to turn around. If you climb at best angle of climb, you will have a greater chance of returning to the runway, as compared to climbing at a shallower angle. When returning to the runway, you should maintain Vg if able and use 30-45 degrees of bank. If the probability of landing on the runway is unlikely, it is recommended that you shut off all fuel supply to the engine and complete the memorized checklist. Also consider that other aircraft may be departing from the runway you're returning to.

If you have an engine failure at your cruising altitude, how far will you be able to glide?
The gliding distance is found in the emergency section of the POH. The gliding performance for the Cessna 152 is approximately 1 NM per 600 foot loss of altitude. While cruising at about 4,500 AGL you could glide 7.5 NM with no winds.

Are there any points during your flight where you would not be able to glide to an airport or safe landing zone?
You should always have a safe landing spot for every flight. If not you should consider flying a higher altitude or flying a different route.

During flight you notice a high oil temperature and low oil pressure, high oil temperature and high oil pressure, or high oil temperature and normal oil pressure. What would be the cause of each of these, and how would you handle these situations?
A high temperature and low pressure could be caused from an oil leak. In this situation you would want to reduce power and land as soon as practical. A high temp and high pressure could be caused by a clog in the oil line. In this situation you would want to reduce power and land as soon as practical. And a high temperature and normal pressure could be caused from not enough air circulating over the engine. In this situation you would want to reduce power, decrease pitch attitude, and attempt to increase airflow over the engine.

During flight you notice white smoke coming from behind the instrument panel. What is causing this, and what should you do?
White smoke is the indication of an electrical fire. In this situation you should coordinate with your crew the plan of action, if applicable advise the controller that you are on frequency with of your problem and that you will be turning off your radios, and then turn off all electrically powered equipment and proceed to the most practical airport for landing.

During your flight you notice a circuit breaker has popped out. What would you do in this situation?
You would turn off that electrical component, monitor the ammeter and the other circuit breakers, after one minute you would reset the circuit breaker, turn back on the electrical component, and verify that the problem has been nullified. Afterwards you should write up the discrepancy in the aircraft book.

How would you notice an alternator failure?
The first indication of a failed alternator would be the ammeter indicating a very low negative charge and a low voltage light.

During cruise flight you notice the alternator has failed. Eventually you will run out of battery supply. How will you determine how long your battery will last?
You would first need to know how much amperage per hour your battery can produce. It is common that your battery will produce about 15 AMPs/HR. Based on this information you would then calculate the amount of amps being used by totaling up the numbers on the circuit breakers for  the equipment that is currently using electrical power. For example if you have totaled 30 AMPS, you would divide 15 by 30, which would indicate that you have about 30 minutes of electrical power.

From the previous question, would you rely on 30 minutes of electrical supply?
No, I always recommend that you should give yourself 15 minutes before a complete electrical failure. The reason for this is that you may have not recognized the alternator failure immediately, there was some time before you started reducing your electrical supply which is what you based your calculations on, and your battery may not be new and capable of producing 15 AMPs/HR.

If you lose electrical power midway through your flight, where will you divert to?
For most flights, it is best to return to your home airport. Obviously if this decision could affect the safety of the flight, you should proceed to the safest, most practical airport.

How do you handle a loss of communication situation?
The first step when losing radio communications is to troubleshoot. Troubleshooting should consist of checking the frequency, checking the volume, checking the squelch, checking headset jacks, trying a different radio, and recycling the avionics master switch. After determining that you are unable to remedy the problem with troubleshooting, you should squawk 7600 and proceed to the most practical airport for landing.

How will you determine which runways are in use and how would you enter the pattern during a loss of communication situation?
When arriving at the airport, you should overfly the airport 1000 feet above traffic pattern altitude and observe the direction of traffic by wind indicators or by other aircraft. While circling over a controlled airport, you should also be paying attention to the tower for light gun signals. Once you have received a signal to return for landing, you can then enter the pattern. To acknowledge the towers' light gun signals, you should rock your wings during the day, and turn on and off the landing light during night operations. If entering the pattern at an uncontrolled airport, you should decide to enter the pattern for landing when you have determined that you will remain clear of other aircraft.
What are the different types of light gun signals?
In the air, steady green is cleared to land, flashing green is return for landing, steady red is give away to other aircraft and continue circling, flashing red is airport unsafe don't land, alternating green and red is exercise extreme caution.
On the ground, steady green is cleared for takeoff, flashing green is cleared to taxi, steady red is stop, flashing red is clear runway in use, flashing white return to starting point, and alternating green and red is exercise extreme caution.

Is it better to divert with a radio failure to a controlled or uncontrolled airport?
You should divert to a controlled airport if possible. At a controlled airport, once ATC notices your situation, they will be diverting aircraft away from you, whereas at uncontrolled airport the traffic in the pattern will more than likely have no idea you are there. Also a controlled airport has a higher probability of having a service facility available to fix your radio problem.

Is losing electrical power an emergency?
No, unless the pilot turns the situation into an emergency. The only problem will be the loss of radio communication, a loss of navigation systems, and the loss of some instruments.

What flight instrument would lose during an electrical failure?
You would lose your turn coordinator.

What do all the various signs and markings indicate?


What is a LAHSO, and do you have to accept it?
LASHO stands for Land And Hold Short Operations. This is where the controller will request that you land and stop prior to an intersecting runway or taxiway. You do not need to accept these requests, but if you do, you must comply with them.

What is a runway incursion and how do you avoid one?
A runway incursion occurs whenever an aircraft enters a runway environment without permission. To reduce the likelihood of this occurring you should be familiar with all the airport signs and markings, always have an airport diagram out, and if you are uncertain about your position or clearance you must ask for clarification.

Can you have a runway incursion at an uncontrolled airport?
Yes you can. If an aircraft is on final and another aircraft enters the runway, this would be considered a runway incursion.

What is part NTSB 830?
Part NTSB 830 includes information about what determines an incident/accident and the applicable reporting procedures.

What constitutes an accident, and who has to be notified? 
An accident is an occurrence associated with the operation of an aircraft which any persons suffers death or serious injury, or in which the aircraft receives substantial damage that is directly related to the flight. The operator of the aircraft shall file a report on form 6120.1 within 10 days after an accident to the NTSB.

What determines serious injury?
An accident that requires hospitalization for more than 48 hours commencing within 7 days from the date of the injury was received, a fracture of any bone (except simple fractures in fingers, toes and nose), causes severe hemorrhages, nerve, muscle or tendon damage, involves injury to any internal organ, or involves second or third degree burns or any burns affecting more than 5 percent of the body surface

What is establishes substantial damage?
Damage or failure which adversely affects the structural strength, performance, or flight characteristics of the aircraft and which would normally require major repair or replacement of the affected component . Engine failure or damage limited to an engine if only one engine fails or is damaged, bent fairings or cowling, dented skin, small punctured holes in the skin or fabric, ground damage to rotor or propeller blades, and damage to landing gear, wheels, tires, flaps, engine accessories, brakes or wingtips are not considered substantial damage for the purpose of this part

What other situations could cause an immediate notification to the NTSB?
A flight control system malfunction or failure, the inability of a required flight crewmember to perform normal flight duties as a result of injury or illness, an in flight fire, a midair collision, and damage to property, other than the aircraft estimated to exceed $25,000 for repair or fair market value in the event of total loss, whichever is less.


What is considered an incident?
An incident is an occurrence other than an accident.

When is an incident required to be reported to the NTSB?
Only when requested by a FAA personal.

What is a NASA form, and when is it used?
A NASA form is an anonymous form that you can fill out if you accidentally violate an FAR. This is not considered a way to get yourself out of trouble, but rather a way to demonstrate to the FAA, if you are investigated, that you were aware that you violated a regulation. With this taken into consideration, it is possible that you may receive a less severe punishment.

Can you land at private airports?
You may land at these locations only during an emergency.

Why are the some airports different colors?
A magenta colored airport indicates no control tower, and a blue colored airport indicates that the airport has a control tower.

Identify a private airport.
A private airport can be identified in two ways. One way is with a magenta encircled R on your VFR chart, or beside the airport name you will see (Pvt).

How do you know if the airport is closed?
When an airport is closed, it will be indicated on the chart by the magenta X inside a magenta circle on the chart. From the air you can determine if an airport or runway is closed by noticing large yellow Xs placed at the beginning and end of the runway.

How can you determine of the tower is only in operation part time?
You will see a star next to the control tower frequency.

What do the elevation figures show you?
These numbers depict the highest elevation within the latitude and longitude box rounded up to the nearest hundred foot, plus 300 feet, or plus 100 feet if the highest obstacle is a man-made structure.

What is the magenta dashed line with 13’E on it signify?
This is the isogonic line. It provides you the correction between true north and magnetic north.

What are the circular dot patterns on your chart indicate?
These dots indicate that there is an NDB at this location.

How would you identify if a VOR is on an airport?
There will be a small dot on the airport symbol.

Why is there an encircled H in some VOR boxes?
This indicates HIWAS is available through this VOR

What is a Transcribed Weather Enroute Broadcast? 
TWEB provides meteorological and aeronautical data which is broadcasted over selected NAVAIDs. Generally, the broadcast contains route-oriented data with specially prepared NWS forecasts, inflight advisories, and winds aloft information. It also includes selected current information such as weather reports, NOTAMs, and special notices.

Interpret the airport information contained on a VFR chart.
Typically you will see a tower frequency, then a star after the frequency stating that the tower closes, the encircled C which indicates the CTAF frequency used when the tower is closed, the ATIS frequency, then the elevation of the runway, then a possible indication that the airport has lights, the longest runway in hundreds of feet, a UNICOM frequency, and nonstandard traffic pattern runways.

On the sectional chart, if an airport has tick marks surrounding it what does that mean?
The airport has services, such as fuel, maintenance, and oxygen. 

How do you get information regarding altitudes and times of operation of restricted areas?
To get this information you would need to refer to the side information panel of the chart to get the details about the restricted airspace in question.

What are the intercept procedures?
If you are intercepted by a U.S. military or law enforcement aircraft, immediately:
1. Follow the instructions given by the intercepting aircraft.
2. Notify ATC, if possible.
3. Attempt to communicate with the intercepting aircraft and/or ATC on the emergency frequency 121.5 MHz, giving the identity and position of your aircraft and the nature of the flight.
4. If equipped with a transponder, squawk 7700, unless otherwise instructed by ATC. If any instructions received by radio from any sources conflict with those given by the intercepting aircraft by visual or radio signals, request clarification while continuing to comply with the instructions given by the intercepting aircraft.

Identify a victor airway?
Victor airways are indicated by a faint blue line extending from VORs.

What type of airspace are victor airways in?
Victor airways are in class E airspace starting at 1,200 feet AGL.

What are Military Training Routes, and find one on a chart?
These routes are comparable to victor airways, but for military use. MTRs are divided into two categories. VR for visual routes, and IR for instrument route. The VR routes are divided into two parts, which depend on how many numbers are associated with the MTR. If the MTR has 4 numbers, the altitude of the traffic will be below 1,500 AGL, and if the MTR has 3 numbers, the traffic will be above 1,500 AGL.

Why does some airspace's height have a minus sign next to the altitude?
This minus sign indicates that the airport's airspace goes up to but not including the published altitude. More than likely the reason for this is that another airspace overlays a portion of the airspace.

Where is a wildlife refuge area and how high should you fly above it?
You can identify a WRA by finding the blue line that encloses an area with blue dots inside. It is recommended to maintain at least 2,000 feet AGL when flying over a WRA.

Know all the chart symbols located on the legend.


How do you know what frequency to contact approach or departure control on?
You can find these frequencies on the aeronautical chart in two areas. One way is to look for frequencies that are surrounded by a magenta box, and the other way is to look on the side panel of the chart.

Describe VFR Flight Following: what is it, who does it, what are its limitations, and how do you get it?
Flight following is radar services from ATC. ATC will provide you with traffic advisories, limited weather information, limited NOTAMs, and can help you find your destination airport if needed. All these services are workload permitting, meaning don't assume ATC will always provide these services. You can request flight following with the nearest approach, departure, or center control facility.

What are the magenta arrows on the on the TAC chart for?
These arrows indicate the class B airspace transitions.

What are some hazards associated with night flying?
The three major factors include the ability to see terrain at night, your ability to navigate by visual references, and the ability to determine pitch and bank angles without a visual horizon.

Why shouldn’t you use red highlighter on your chart for a night flight?
Even though using a red light is great for maintaining night vision, it does make the magenta ink very hard to recognize on your aeronautical chart.
  
Why is it recommended to use oxygen above 5,000 ft when flying at night?
This is for the fact that the eyes work harder at night and thus require more oxygen to operate at their full potential.

What are the different airport beacon colors?
Civilian, white and green. Military, green and dual white.

What color are the runway edge lights, the taxiway edge lights, the taxiway centerline lights, and the threshold lights?
White, blue, green, and red and green (the approach end is green, the departure end is red).

What is a VASI, and what is a PAPI? And what are they used for?
A VASI is a visual approach slope indicator, and a PAPI is a precision approach path indicator. These are light configurations located next to the approach end of the runway. They inform the pilot about the aircrafts' height on approach to the runway. The difference between the two is that a VASI will only inform the pilot that they are high, low, or on glide path, as compared to the PAPI which will inform the pilot if they are high, slightly high, on path, slightly low, and low.

What is the problem with flying over an unlit area at night?
When flying over an unlit area there is the possibility of losing sight of both the terrain and the horizon. Losing sight of the terrain can possibly cause a pilot to become unaware of their position and possibly be involved with a CFIT situation. When the pilot loses sight of the horizon, there is an increased probability of the pilot becoming spatially disorientated.

How should you prepare for a possible engine failure at night?
You should be more vigilant when considering your cruising altitude. Keep in mind that at night it will take much longer to determine a suitable landing spot.

What is PCL? How do you know an airport has it?
This is pilot controlled lighting. If the airport has this feature, the pilot can turn on the airport lights by clicking on the push-to-talk button 7 times. This will turn it on to high. If the pilot wants to lower the intensity you can click the push-to-talk button 5 times to turn the lights on to medium and you can click the push-to-talk button 3 times to turn the lights on low. You can determine if the airport has this feature by referencing the A/FD.

What is a somatogravic illusion?
A somatogravic illusion occurs when you sense a different flight attitude than what is actually occurring. For example, if you didn't have sight of a horizon and accelerated, your body may perceive this as a climb. This can occur during night operations without a sight of a horizon, or if you accidentally fly into a cloud.

What is a black hole approach?
A black-hole approach illusion can happen during a final approach at night (no stars or moonlight) over water or unlit terrain to a lighted runway beyond which the horizon is not visible. If the pilot has no peripheral visual cues to be oriented relative to the earth, there may be the illusion of being upright and the runway itself to be tilted and sloping.
A particularly hazardous black-hole illusion involves approaching a runway under conditions with no lights before the runway and with city lights or rising terrain beyond the runway. These conditions may produce the visual illusion of being too high on final approach, resulting in pitching the aircraft nose down to decrease the perceived approach angle.

How would you be able to fly a safer approach if you encountered a black hole approach situation?
A few things you could do would involve flying a normal traffic pattern, rather than making a straight in approach. This way you would have more clues about when you should be at a certain altitude, such as about 700 feet when turning base, and about 400 feet when turning final. You can also land with a slight amount of power as to offset a high descent rate, if you have sufficient runway. Lastly, choose the longest runway, or the one with the most lights. If landing at a controlled airport you can ask the tower to turn up the runway lighting for better visibility.