Pilots around the world keep logs of the time they spend in aircraft. This is done to track their proficiency, experience, and duty time as they fly. A pilot's logbook tells a story of their travels, documents their activity, and in some cases is the basis for their pay. Filling out a pilot logbook accurately will ensure correct record keeping and properly document an individual pilot's experience for current and future endeavours. A pilot's logbook works very much like an accounting ledger.
Complete basic flight information in the logbook. This will include the date of the flight, the type of the aircraft flown, and the origin and destination of the flight. These columns are typically at the left hand side of the logbook and will help track aircraft activity along with dates and places flown.
Keep track of actual time flown on each flight. The time a pilot flies on each flight is the applicable time to be logged in a pilot's logbook. This can include training time, solo flight time, or flight time with passengers.
Log time of flight in the column indicated for "total flight time". For each flight, this time will be representative of the total time of the flight, no matter the type of aircraft or the conditions of the flight.
Determine the type of aircraft flown and log the time in the appropriate column. Common logbook columns for these considerations are but are not limited to single-engine, multi-engine, seaplane, rotorcraft, and glider. For any such category of aircraft that is applicable, the flight time will also be logged in these columns.
Determine and log the type of weather conditions that existed for the flight. These may include columns in the logbook for instrument weather conditions, night flight, or other such categories. Log the amount of flight time that took place during any of these conditions. The total of these may be less than the total flight time since a flight may encounter these conditions for only portions of the flight.
Log the flight time in the cross-country flight column if it meets FAA requirements for cross-country flight experience. The determination of applicability of cross-country flight time is based on length of flight and the type of operation. If this is in question seek assistance from a flight instructor to clarify if cross-country flight experience is applicable for the particular flight in question.
Determine the status of the pilot in relation to the flight and log the appropriate authorisation category of the pilot. If the pilot is receiving instruction, he will log this in the dual or flight instruction received category. If the pilot is working in a multi-crew environment where he is serving as a second-in-command, the flight time will be logged in the "SIC" column. When the pilot is the only pilot or is acting as the commander of the aircraft, the flight will be logged as pilot-in-command (PIC) time in the "PIC" column.
Consider all the types of flight time that will be encountered when choosing the best logbook to fit your needs. Pilot logbooks are available from many vendors and come in various sizes, with various columns for different types of flight experiences. When choosing a logbook, think about the types of flying that you will be doing and pick a logbook that has characteristics that meet this best. Professional pilots will typically look for larger more detailed logbooks than hobby pilots who may need to document less detail in their logbook.
A pilot's logbook constitutes a federal record of flight time. Falsification of these records can result in penalty.