Three Logbook Tips to Save You Heartache

There are lots of tips I could give you about doing better logging of your flight time, but there are three that could save you a big chunk of heartache if things go wrong.

All three of these relate to “what happens if a logbook gets lost, destroyed, damaged,” or otherwise is no longer available to document your flight and training experience.

“It won’t happen to me,” I know you are thinking. Sure, you are just that lucky or careful. But I have seen it happen to others who thought the same thing.

With that in mind, here are the three quick tips.

Back it Up – Multiple Ways

Make copies. Somehow. Actually, I recommend digital copies such as scans or even doing something as simple as taking pictures and saving them to your “cloud” storage of choice. And back it up where it lives in the cloud.

I personally use an app on my phone/tablet that allows me to “scan” via the camera on the device to a pdf file format. Compiling this over time I have developed a running file that is a full backup of my logbook in scanned digital format. A quick search on the app store for your devices will probably generate search results that will offer a few options for this that cost less than $5-10, a cheap price to protect your data.

No matter what you choose, pictures, pdf scans, or old school scanner files, backing this up to a computer is a good idea, but not enough. Hard drives fail also.

I like to back up my files to an online service. There are many options such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and OnDrive that offer a limited amount of storage for free that is more than enough for backing up your logbook. This ensures that the file would live through a computer failure. I know it sounds a little paranoid, but multiple levels of saving this data can ensure that copies of your logbook will live through hardware failures, software failures, house fires, and more.

Don’t forget to backup not just the pages with flight hours, but endorsements also. Missing things like tailwheel, complex, or high performance endorsements can also be a problem if they are lost. without an ability to document them it may require a pilot to re-do them.

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Common CFI Checkride “Administrata” Errors

The CFI practical test is definitely known as one of the hardest, longest, most grueling practical tests pilots take. As I have been giving them over the last couple of years, there are a few things that are standing out in the area of CFI knowledge relating to what I generally call “administrata” related to the CFI’s ability to properly train and qualify their students.

These are critical knowledge areas that directly relate to the practical ability of the CFI to demonstrate their knowledge level of how they will actually do their jobs when they are certificated. In some cases, it may seem like these knowledge points are “way down in the weeds” or just part of the “nitty gritty minutiae” that seems trivial, but these items directly relate to whether the CFI will properly train and qualify their future customers (students) for certificates and ratings.

As a DPE, I find the ability of a CFI to answer these questions correctly directly relates to whether or not the students that the CFI will eventually train for things like their Private or Commercial certificates are actually qualified and have received training that is compliant. On more than one occasion, CFIs not knowing some of these administrative intricacies has resulted in their students being provided training that is ineligible for use toward a rating or certificate, representing significant wasted training time and cost, and in some cases, these oversights have resulted in the termination of the CFIs certificate privileges. There really is a reason we ask these questions.

With that said, here are a few common knowledge area deficiencies that might help a future CFI candidate have a better chance at passing that initial CFI practical test. If you are reading this and are already certificated, this might serve as a good refresher to remind you of a few quirks that can ensure you are providing proper training.

Cross-country experience toward a rating or certificate must include a landing greater than 50 nautical miles from the point of departure, not just a leg over 50 miles in length.

One thing an instructor needs to be able to do is properly apply cross-country flight requirements toward ratings or certificates. We commonly give an example of a cross-country and ask the CFI applicant if that will “count” or not. An example of one I might use is below. I would follow that example by asking, “So, does this cross-country flight meet the requirements for a solo-x-c to count toward the aeronautical experience for a private pilot?” Continue reading

Data Highlights and Potential Industry Considerations from 2018 FAA Airman Certificate Data…

Ok, my wife says I am really a dork because I got excited when I saw that the 2018 FAA Airman Certificate Data was posted publicly. I told her that I couldn’t be the only person who thought it was fun to look at that data, there had to be at least three or four more people just like me somewhere in the industry. She didn’t disagree that it was probably limited to that few people.

But someone has to look at this data, and with a little contextualization, some of that data can be illustrative of trends in our aviation industry when it comes to the pilot community or our certification trends. The good news, I have been keeping a spreadsheet for this for years, update it with new data, and do it for you! So, with that said, here are a few highlights that I noted after a little data crunching.

When we look at the overall trend, I find it most broadly applicable to look at a few key metric points. These include overall numbers for things like the Private Pilot, Commercial Pilot, Instrument Rating, ATP Pilot, and CFI Certificates issued on a yearly basis. To help build a baseline for those numbers, the following graphics may be of interest.

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Charlie Checkrides (2018)…

Why drive when you can fly? Especially when you are going to an airport anyway!

I didn’t do it every time I could over the past year, but one of the reasons we bought Charlie was to make the travel between airport easier when I was conducting FAA practical tests.

Like any good pilot, I kept logs, and tracked what I did. Well, not only as a pilot, but so I could also give the data to my accountant at the end of the year to see if any of the costs associated with travel to and from practical tests could be leveraged for any taxiing benefits also. You can deduct mileage, why not flight time, right? Well, at least some of the costs can be he tells me. But I digress.

Curious what the total at the end of the year would be, I tallied it up, graphed it, and found that Charlie and I spent a little time together over the year!

Totaling over 34 hours and travelling over 1600 miles, Charlie spirited me across the Michigan, and even a little Indiana, countryside from above to where I provided my services as a FAA Designated Pilot Examiner.

The only drawback, when you fly to an airport it is hard to run out at lunch and get some food…I expect if I tried to taxi to a nearby deli or restaurant with Charlie it wouldn’t go unnoticed or be very successful.

I know that the use of the aircraft saved time over the travels of the year. In some cases, it was the catalyst that allowed more than one test to take place in the same day due to the reduced travel time between two airports that were a significant distance apart. Aircraft are truly time machines.

Oh, and they are just darn fun to fly also. So, with that said, and without getting too esoteric here, Charlie gave me a year with some rather enjoyable transits.