A Pilot’s Logbook is MORE than just a Record of Flight Time!

Short of buying an airplane, the most expensive aviation item any pilot will own is their logbook. The value of each hour recorded in that book added together after 1 year, 2 years, 5 years, 10 years, 20 years and so on is astronomical. But a logbook is so much more than just a simple log of numbers and airport codes. It is more than a list of the training a pilot has completed. A logbook is a love story…


A logbook is a pilot’s own personal love story…


Presenting someone with his or her first logbook is a thrill in itself to a passionate flight instructor. I’ve had the opportunity to present scores, possibly hundreds of first logbooks to new student pilots. The group of first time flyers was made up of a vast array of individuals too, from 10-year old Eric who I have written about previously to many individuals well past the commonly referred to “retirement age” of 65 years young. Included were lawyers, fisherman, teachers, high school students, even the Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation, Richard Davey!

Gave Mass Sec. of Transportation his first flight lesson 7/31

Mass Secretary of Transportation, first flight lesson 7/31/13!


The smile that an individual has the first time they take the controls of an airplane is one thing, but the other big smile is when that person receives their logbook, the official record of their flight training. They don’t know it yet, but the first line in a long and passionate love story has just been written. Some individuals never go back up and the love story never develops, just like a novel without page two. Others continue the story for a few lines but never make it to the “first kiss” scene, or the first solo! Those lucky individuals that continue to pen their own person love story with the sky are the lucky ones.

Often, students will ask if they should keep their logbook with them. The answer is yes, as it is a vital training tool. Whether it is for the flight instructor and student to reference what has been completed or simply because it holds their pilot privilege endorsements any student should always have their logbook when heading to the airport for a lesson.

After the license though, it is a whole new ball game so to say. First, a certificated pilot does not need to have their logbook in their possession to fly. Even if they are flying a complex aircraft, for which an endorsements (complex endorsement) is required. If requested by the Administrator or official, the logbook with endorsement must be furnished in reasonable time. The drive home and back to the airport, I believe is reasonable time…

Beyond the logbook not being required to be in a pilot’s possession, I would say that it is smart to not carry the logbook. First, if it is safe at home, it will not be in position to be lost or left behind accidently. Secondly, if something were to happen and the logbook was damaged or destroyed, without adequate back up, there is no way for you to prove the logbook’s contents. This will likely be low on your priority list but still worth considering!

One of my favorite questions, while sitting around the airport coffee table is, “What MUST be logged?” Seriously, just log everything… What is the downside? In 15 years no one has been able to provide a good reason for not logging all of his or her flying. Imagine if the author of the novel, discussed herein earlier, left out chapter 7 and it’s plot twist, the novel would be a lot less exciting and so to is a pilot’s logbook love story with missing entries. So yes, only training and currency, etc… must be tracked but don’t cheat yourself. Each flight is a memory on it’s own and together it is part of a bigger collection.


Did I have to log the 2009 trip I made from Mansfield to St. Louis? No, but I’m sure glad I did because that cross country and the 2009 college flight team championships are still one of my favorite flying memories!


Don’t forget that big area where during training your flight instructor listed all of the maneuvers you completed, once you have a license you should still be filling that thing up! Keep track of everyone you bring flying, cool sights you got to see, anything interesting all, or even how the food was at the diner you flew to! The comments beyond “Flew to OXC for lunch with Peter” go a long way to sparking memories years later, which is really why you should log each and every flight!

Some homework for you readers of ReviewBeforeFlight… Go get your logbook and flip through the pages. Look back at your flights over the years and try not to smile, I bet you can’t! I flip through my logbook sometimes and every time it lightens me up. I may not remember each and every flight but I do remember phases of flying whether it was as a young flight instructor, learning about floats in Alaska, my old Bridgewater State College flight team trips and competitors or any of the students I had the pleasure of flying with for a while…

-Fly Safe, @MTElia1B9


7 thoughts on “A Pilot’s Logbook is MORE than just a Record of Flight Time!

  1. Thanks for this – I’ve been preaching this for years. It’s your logbook and you can (and probably should) record anything you want. And you aren’t just restricted to that one tiny line. The most interesting logbook I’ve ever seen was a student of mine – who used one FULL page per flight (not just one line). He drew elaborate sketches and wrote extensive commentary about the flight – it was beautiful!

    • Gary, that is excellent! I definitely subscribe to the theory that more than one line is not only OK, but it is encouraged!

  2. Nice post… Nice to know others like to do this in their logbooks. Once in a while I like to look back in my logbook and remember some fun memories of places, people and other tidbits that were key to that flight. I always like to jot down the key memory of that flight with each entry.

    • Thank you! I think it is very important to keep track of the “cool” things that happen on each flight. On one takeoff/landing lesson while in the downwind at my last home airport, my student and I looked over and flying parallel to us was a bald eagle. Not the most common sight in southeastern Massachusetts, which made it all the more exciting! Things like that are what fill my logbook!

  3. Well, if we are going to equate our logbooks to a “love story” and our first solo being like our “first kiss” then, I would have to say, at least at the moment I am “separated and headed for divorce.”

    I started pursing aviation as a career later in life thinking it would be better to try than never try at all. When I officially started in my late 30’s, I knew it would be a long shot but I was able to become a corporate pilot flying a CJ3, though never type-rated. At that time I was also trying to start a jet management business, which did take time away from flying. Long story short, due to the economy I would eventually lose both my flying and management job. It has now been more than two years ago that this happened. I did go back to flight instructing but then left since the management where I was instructing was slowly killing the business with stupid and burdensome rules, making training periods much longer and therefore more expensive; students were too few and far between. Now, faced with the equally stupid Congressionally mandated FOQ rules and the minimum 1,500 hours needed just to be an F.O. for a regional (I only have about 1,000 hours), I am still left with few options. While I am halfway through a masters degree in aviation and must admit, I have considered leaving my dream of aviation behind. I knew it might be rough starting as late as I did (52 now) but so far what I feel I have is a “tragic love story” with little hope for a happy ending. What time I have left will tell.

    • Michael, thank you for commenting and for reading ReviewBeforeFlight! I think that my main takeaway from your story is how passionate you are about aviation. The fact that even in the face of adversity you stay committed looking for new ways to stay involved. That is something I would encourage everyone in aviation to do…

  4. Thank you for presenting this well thought-out, and (for me) emotionally meaningful piece.
    My love affair with actually aviation started with a small children’s logbook and plastic wings given to me by an Eastern Airlines pilot on a flight to Orlando when I was 10 years old. I decided right there and then that he had the best job in the world, and this is what I wanted to do.
    Fast-forward almost 40 years … I have been a military pilot, an aerial helicopter tour pilot, an aerial applications pilot, an aerial firefighter, an international charter pilot, an international ferry pilot, and a corporate pilot. I have flown thousands of hours in airplanes and helicopters, doing a wide variety of roles, from EMS to disaster relief. I have seen great beauty and incredible devastation (Haiti 2010).

    Now I’m medically grounded, having lost both my kidneys to a degenerative disease. I am dependent on regular dialysis treatments for my continued survival whilst I await a transplant.
    What helps to keep me sane, is looking back through my logbooks and remembering the wonder years. Over the years I filled my logbooks with great memories, lots of notations and amazing photographs. This has now become my scrapbook, my photo album, my reminder of what joy is.

    I still have pages to fill, and one day I will put in another picture of me, back where I belong…

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