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In the Philippines and many other countries, pilots are required to maintain a logbook. It’s a book where pilots write and record their flying hours and every flight they have flown. Some of the contents of a pilot logbook are the pilot’s flight time, number of landings, and types of instrument maneuvers they made. The logbook also contains the amount of simulator time completed since it also counts towards an aviator’s training.

Primarily, a pilot logbook shows that the aviator has met certain requirements and is crucial in getting a certificate or rating. It’s also a requirement when obtaining different types of pilot licenses. That’s why even new cadets in a pilot school need to maintain a logbook. However, logging flight details by hand and keeping the record clean and organized can be challenging to do, especially for first-timers.

If your goal is to be a professional pilot for aviation companies, it’s critical to keep your flight logbook clean and professional. To ensure that you make fewer cross-outs and mistakes, here are five practical tips on maintaining a proper pilot logbook.

Use the Same Pen Throughout the Logbook

Many pilots overlook using the same pen and color throughout their logbooks. What they may not realize is that it’s a simple yet effective method to maintain a professional-looking pilot logbook. Interchanging between blue and black pens can make your record appear disorganized. That said, be consistent with the pen color you use. Choose either a black or a blue pen, but take note that black ink on paper looks more professional.

In addition to your pen color, using pens with the same line thickness is better. Reading different entries written with varying thickness can create unnecessary emphasis and makes the experience unpleasant. That said, create uniformity in your logbook entries by using the same kind of pen. Buy your pen of choice in bulk or get a refillable pen. More importantly, never use a pencil to write in your logbook. It’s unacceptable and doesn’t look professional at all.

Choose a Format to Log Flight Times

Before you make your first pilot logbook entry, decide on the format you’ll use to log flight times. The two acceptable formats are hours and minutes and decimal hours. Between the two, the latter is more commonly used because it makes totaling flight time more manageable. To understand this format, each hour is represented with 1.0 and each minute is written after the decimal point, with the minutes divided by six. So if, for example, you need to log a flight time of one hour and thirty minutes, it must show up as 1.5. The 30 minutes must first be divided by six. With this format, you’ll need to do a bit of mental math or make use of a calculator.

While writing flight times in hours and minutes isn’t as common anymore, it fairly easy to do since the flight time is recorded in a straightforward manner. As an example, one hour and 30 minutes will be entered as 1:30. But you most likely need to use a calculator when adding the total flight times. Once you’ve chosen a format, use it throughout the logbook for a consistent look.

Correct Mistakes in a Straight Line

Sometimes, you might make mistakes inputting details in the flight logbook. When this happens, do the correction neatly. Instead of hastily writing over the error, cross it out with a single line across the log entry. Use a ruler to make sure the line is straight so it looks clean and professional. Then, indicate that the correct log is in the next line or written in the margin. Before writing the correct details, double-check it so you don’t make the same mistake.

Label Certificate Requirements with Tabs

Aside from the flights you’ve flown, your flight logbook will also show your certificate requirements and endorsements. These are important flight milestones and are often reviewed by interviewers and examiners.

If you want to impress them with a professional pilot logbook, place a tab for each date you’ve met a new pilot certificate requirement. Doing so will also help interviewers find your requirements and won’t have to flip through every single page. You can get tabs, page separators, and dividers in office supply stores. You can also use sticky notes as labels. It all depends on you. Just make sure to put the label on the correct pages.

Properly Store Your Flight Logbook

To protect your flight logbook from getting damaged, keep it in a clean and dry place. When exposed to humidity or moisture, your logbook can get ruined. As an extra precaution, you may want to place your logbook in a waterproof, resealable bag when you’re on the go. It reduces the risk of wrinkled pages, nasty ink smudges, or unpleasant smells.

Your pilot logbook is where you record your flight milestones and keep certificate requirements. Given its importance in your career as a pilot, you need to keep it clean and professional. Even if you’re a pilot in training, consider applying these tips in maintaining a proper pilot logbook. They will help you keep an organized logbook from your first day up until you reach your aviation goals.