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Usage of Strobes and Landing Light in GA

For more than 20 years I would always leave the strobes on and use the landing light (in the daytime) only before entering the runway (ON with takeoff briefing) and up to 1000 ft AGL and after the approach briefing and for landing.

Then, one year ago, I flew with a professional ATP instructor who told me that if I wanted to do it RIGHT, i should taxi with the strobes OFF, switch them ON at the holding position and not switch on the landing before I receive the takeoff clearance. This was really new to me.

How do you do it?

What I learned (recently : PPL in 2013 / IRSE in 2015) :
-Taxi with beacon, taxi light and landing light ON (no strobe)
-when reaching holding point : taxi and landing lights OFF
-before lining up : strobe + taxi light + landing light ON
-400 ft height : taxi and landing light OFF
-after landing : strobe OFF after vacated the runway

Makes sense (but my airplane only has Nav lights, Strobes and the Ldg. Light – no “Taxi Light” (whatever that is) and no Beacon.

I don’t use any lights at all during daytime.

I was never taught on this matter until my night rating. I tried to find a flow that makes sense, but I didn’t find one usable day and night.
Before startup : beacon or strobes ON (at night NAV ON) to warn people around
Cleared to taxi : strobes OFF taxi light ON (or landing if no taxi light) to show you are about to taxi
Stopped for runup : taxi light OFF to show you are no moving anymore
Cleared for take off : strobe & landing light ON to show others and for me to remind I am cleared (if lined up with light OFF, ask confirmation)
Once out of the high traffic area (pattern or CTR or anove 2000ft) : landing light OFF
When back in a high trafic area : landing light ON
(Some say to swith taxi light ON when cleared to land)
When clear of runway : strobes OFF, taxi ON
When stopped for shutdown : Taxi OFF

Last Edited by Jujupilote at 30 Aug 07:18

Many POHs and other sources (e.g. some postings above) say you should not turn on the strobe lights until reaching the runway.

I’ve always wondered why. The single red beacon found is not very conspicuous. So I always turn the strobes on before engine start and leave them on throughout the flight unless there is a specific reason to turn them off. Flight in cloud is sometimes mentioned, but the reflections of the strobes have never bothered me.

ESKC (Uppsala/Sundbro), Sweden

I do the same as Jujupilote. Strobes go on prior to start (and go back off afterwards), and prior to entering any runway for any purpose and then remain on until I’ve cleared the runway. There may be airborne time in between


None of the aircraft I fly regularly have beacons, just strobes. They are always on with the master, as they not only warn people that the aircraft is “alive and dangerous” but also act as a reminder as you walk away that the master has been left on (not that I have ever done so, but people do.)

EGKB Biggin Hill

I was taught last year, on a helicopter, that strobes are on before engine start and stay on the whole time. Obviously helicopters have lots of spinning bits to kill people, but I feel the same goes with light aircraft. If you see a strobe on a silent aircraft you avoid it in case the engine starts!


“Strobes ON” is the first button I push, after ALT and long before starting the engine. As carlmeek said above, this warns other people on the apron that the engine may come alive soon. Landing lights ON are on my before takeoff checklist, so I activate them at holding point. I leave them on in bad VIS, otherwise deactivate them with the after takeoff checklist.

Strobes remain always on until after the propeller has stopped spinning!

Novice pilot
EDVM Hildesheim, Germany
35 Posts
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