We've never really concerned ourselves much with aircraft external lights during missions, but with recent sim lighting issues, we need to.
- Hornet external lights are way too bright at a distance.
- Reportedly there is logic in the sim that makes you an easier target for AAA gunners if your lights are on at night.
You should know the location and function of each of these light systems in your cockpit.
Strobe: Switch outboard of throttles. ON by default. Flashing strobe comes on when you start an engine.
Position: Dimmer knob outboard of throttles. OFF by default. Red/green and white on tail.
Formation: Dimmer knob outboard of throttles. OFF by default. Green strip lights, aka "slime lights."
External Lights toggle: Switch on left throttle handle. ON by default. Kills all above external lights.
Landing/Taxi: Switch on left panel under gear handle. OFF by default. Bright forward white light.
What's important about external lights:
a) In a mission, the Flight Leader commands your lights situation, especially at night. "Fence In" automatically includes "Smash Dark," which means to extinguish all external lights. FLs may adjust as necessary. For example, formation lights are low intensity and not easily seen from any appreciable distance, so may remain on at night when over enemy territory.
b) Real world, landing/taxi lights are never used on the carrier flight deck, neither for taxi, launch, or recovery. They blind everyone on deck (including other pilots in the sim). There should be enough light on deck to see where you need to go. If you can't, check gamma in your graphics settings, and/or try NVGs.
c) Real world, external lights are not energized on startup on the carrier, and only turned on to indicate 'ready to launch.' Not really a factor for us, use as you care to.
d) FOR RECOVERY ON THE CARRIER: Turn off position lights when on final. They are WAY TOO BRIGHT in the sim right now, and make it very difficult for other pilots to see. Then, TURN OFF ALL EXTERNAL LIGHTS AFTER TRAP. Same reason. Planes on deck with external lights on make it virtually impossible to see the flight deck.
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