If you are like many pilots, you have a thick paper logbook full of years of flying. You may have seen many different electronic pilot logbook options available, but feel it won’t work for you. You just have too many years of flying to worry about entering all of that data into a computer.
Getting started with a pilot eLog is easier than you think. This guide will break it down into some basic steps:
Why Use an Electronic Logbook?
Paper logbooks do the bare minimum for you. They passively collect valuable data and just let it sit there. You have to pull our your calendar and count to see if you are current to take passengers or file IFR.
As one of my friends recently found out, you tend to forget about your flight review. He booked the airplane, drove to the airport and pre-flighted the airplane. As he was getting ready to start the engine something told him to look in his logbook. It was at that time that he found out his flight review had been expired for over 3 months!
Electronic pilot logbooks will unlock all of this valuable data in your logbook. Your currency will calculate automatically and alert you before something expires.
When is the last time you’ve had to fill out an FAA 8710 form or an insurance application? How much fun was it calculating all of those numbers? With an eLog, those tasks only take you minutes to do.
How Do I get Started?
If you have multiple years of flying tucked away in a paper logbook, don’t worry, you too can get started with little effort. Follow these 4 simple steps.
Put down the shovel and stop digging the hole deeper. Sign up for Pilot Partner and log your next flight (and ever flight afterwards) in Pilot Partner. Don’t worry about your totals yet. Just keep logging your new flights electronically until you have trained yourself to logging all of your electronically first.
Open Pilot Partner on your iPhone or Android device before you leave the airport and log your flight. I typically log my flight while sitting in the airplane after shutting down the engine.
You will still keep your paper logbook updated, but you’ll find that to be a much easier task than it used to be.
The second step is to move your electronic logbook to be your main source and convert your paper logbook to come second. Log all of your new flights in Pilot Partner and stop logging in your paper logbook right away. Once a month or once every couple of months, go and catch up your paper logbook.
I find myself entering more detailed notes in my Pilot Partner Electronic Logbook than I do in my paper logbook. I even attach pictures of my flights. All I enter in my paper logbook is the Date, Tail Number, Aircraft Type, Total Time and any other numbers that apply (PIC, DUAL, Approaches and Landing).
Why would you still keep your paper logbook? For me it is simple… If I ever get that phone call from the FAA, “Please produce your logbook,” they will not get my nicely formatted, easy to read with everything nicely totaled version. They will get my chicken scratch, nightmare version.
You might actually do this before step two, but it is all up to you.
Start entering enough of your previous flights into Pilot Partner to ensure you are current. You might have to go back to your last flight review, or maybe just until your last flight to make you instrument current. Then don’t stop there, keep going just a little more. Go until the start of that page in your logbook.
Why? Then you can use the hand written totals on the page to “Seed” Pilot Partner Flight Totals. You want to pick a page of your logbook and be sure that all of your flights from that page on are in your Pilot Partner account. This will make step 4 much easier.
Step Four, you will use the Pilot Partner Carry In Totals feature to enter your totals from the page where you left off entering into Pilot Partner. All of your totals will show correctly and will report correctly. Sure, it isn’t quite as good as entering all 20+ years of flying, but it will get the job done nicely.
Pilot Partner will even let you enter total hours per:
- Aircraft Type
- Aircraft Tail Number
- Any other category that you can think of
Be sure to pay attention to Time in Type and enter the ones you care about into the Carry in Totals. You may have to do a little guessing here. If you’ve recently done an Insurance Application, pull the numbers from there. Doing this will make filling out future insurance applications easy.
Enjoy Pilot Partner
Don’t try and do all 4 steps at once. Start with step #1 and when you feel comfortable, move on to step #2. Once you get all 4 steps done, you are all set to enjoy logging your Flights Electronically. Sure it would be nice to have all 20 years of your flight experience logged electronically, but you don’t have do it to get the benefits of an electronic logbook.
I am the creator of Pilot Partner Electronic Pilot Logbook software, and I still have 15 years of flying that is only in my paper logbook. One day, I will take the time to get all of my previous flights entered into Pilot Partner.
Import your Logbook
After using Pilot Partner for a while, you may decide that it is time to add more of your old flights into the system. If you have your flight data in any excel spreadsheet you can import it using the Pilot Partner Logbook Import feature.
If you do not have an excel spreadsheet, start making one. It will be quicker and easier to transpose your paper logbook using excel than entering each flight one by one.
Here is a video on how the logbook Import works.
Add old Flights in Batches
It is a good idea to add your old flights little by little. Work backwards in your logbook. Start an excel spreadsheet from the page where you left off in Step 3. Add a couple pages to the excel sheet and then import the file into Pilot Partner.
Then look at the totals forwarded at the bottom of the page you stopped at. Go into your Carry in Totals and update them with those numbers. This will ensure that all of your Flight Totals remain accurate.
Use a Service to Transpose your Logbook
There are a couple of services available where you can scan in your paper logbook in and they will create the excel spreadsheet for you. Pilot Partner has not partnered with any of these services yet, but we are working on that. These paid services could be an easy way to get all of your data into Pilot Partner.