Congratulations, you've safely pulled the plane out of the hangar, gotten your required clearances, taxied from the ramp to the runway and taken off into the night, obeying all signs, lights, and markings you encountered along the way.
We covered a lot of material in this chapter, so don't stress too much about trying to remember it all now. Let's a review a few basic concepts before we close, and then when you take your next flight lesson just take a minute to pay special attention to the signs, lights, and markings you see around the airport.
In a nutshell:
- if a sign is red with white lettering, it's mandatory, and you should stop and receive a clearance before moving past it. If you think you've been cleared already but aren't 100% sure, stop anyway and double check with the controlling authority. It's always better to be safe than to lose your license over a runway incursion or to end up dead in a major accident.
- If it's yellow with black lettering and an arrow on it it's telling you where something is.
- If it's black with yellow lettering it's telling you where you are.
First of all, look for an associated sign or light to give you more information.
- If there's a red sign associated with the painted marking, stop, and get a clearance before proceeding.
- Taxiway markings are yellow.
- Runway markings are white.
- Lights are mostly used at night, or in times of low visibility, such as when the airport is under IFR conditions.
- Taxiway lights are blue.
- Runway edge lights are white.
- Runway threshold lights are green, and the lights at the departure end look red as you approach them.
- If the tower is closed or there is no tower, check to see if the airport has pilot controlled lighting and activate it with your radio push to talk button in the cockpit.
There we go, that's not so bad. Not you know everything you need to about airport lights, markings, and signs.
In all seriousness though, if you do find yourself in a situation where you have questions about a clearance, marking, sign, or light, ask before proceeding. If you are at an uncontrolled airport, announce your intentions on the CTAF or UNICOM and check at least twice twice before entering an area where other aircraft might pose a threat. All markings, signs, and lights mean something and they all share the common purpose of being their to make aircraft operations safer.