Why Keep a Logbook?

If you're a pilot, you need to keep your own logbook. End of debate. Questions?

Truthfully though, here are a few reasons that you should be keeping a logbook:

  • Airline applications. When you apply to an airline, they want to see your logbook. Yes, most will accept a jumble of military records and mangled hardcover logbooks from when you got your private pilot license. However, wouldn't you rather be able to present your interviewers with a clean, sleek stack of paper?
  • Insurance. If you ever want to rent or own civilian aircraft, your insurance rates will be based on your flight experience. Do you want gathering and presenting your logbook to be a major project for this? If you have your logbook up-to-date in an electronic format, you can just print out a new copy and send it in (or save it as a PDF and email it!)
  • Have you ever wanted to fly something special? P-51, A-26, F4U, B-17, T-6, DC-3. You can't just walk up to an organization like the Texas Flying Legends or the Commemorative Air Force and start flying their aircraft. They're going to want to see a logbook showing experience relevant to the kids of flying they do before they'll even talk to you about the possibility of flying with them.
  • Off-duty flying. Okay, you're an airline pilot. Would you like to do any off-duty flying? I flew with a captain who does trips in the right seat of a Falcon on some of his days off. He gets to hang out with a buddy, see the world, and the job pays even better than picking up an extra trip for premium pay. Same story here: they're not going to let you anywhere near that jet without seeing your logbook.

    Same story for you military pilots. Sure, your day job is cool. Wouldn't you enjoy occasionally flying without having to plan, brief and debrief every single aspect of the mission for hours on end? (For pay or just for fun.) Wouldn't you like to step to fly in shorts and sandals rather than gearing up and waiting around at the step desk for 10 minutes to ask mom's permission before you go? Civilian flying involves drastically less queep per flying hour than military flying. It can be fun and lucrative. If you want to get involved in it, you're going to need to come up with a logbook.

  • The dreaded ramp check. You're a pilot...that means you need to be taking people flying every once in a while. At the very least, you need to take your mom and dad up because it'll make them proud. However, we all have to remember that the Federal Aviation Regulations require us to have a logbook on hand any time we fly carrying passengers. (See 14 CFR 61.51 for the specifics.) At the very least, you have to be able to show that you've accomplished 3 landings in the same category and class of aircraft in the last 90 days. If you're taking your mom flying in a single engine airplane, none of your multi-engine airline landings satisfy that requirement. If an FAA Inspector is waiting for you on the ramp when you land, you'd better have a current logbook with you. If not, he could suspend your license as punishment. Do you want to explain to your chief pilot that you can't work for the next 60 days because of an FAA enforcement action? (They don't call these guys the Federales Against Aviation (FAA) for nothing....)

I've flown with some pilots who don't have a passion for aviation. Some have told me, "I wouldn't really care if I never flew again in my life." Some have told me that they don't want to risk their airline careers by enforcement action due to something that happened flying a little prop job. I can respect that, but I also feel bad for these people. Flying is awesome! If you don't love it, then why did you pursue it? You can make a lot more money doing a lot less work as a dentist. (I know...I married one.) All it takes to fly General Aviation (GA) without fear of enforcement action is a little due diligence and good decision making. I hope you'll take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy this part of your life.

Have I convinced you that you need a logbook? Good!

If you're looking for a good electronic logbook app, check out my Logbook Battle Royale.