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…
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!
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.
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