A Pilot's Perspective.

By Barry Meek.

December 2010             

Flying Stories from the Log Book

     In a recent article, I suggested making better use of the “remarks” section in your pilot log book.  For many years I entered only basic, required information such as the route flown on that particular day.  Later on, I began writing a few details of each flight, some of the things that were a bit unusual.  Also, the reason for the flight was noted on most of them.  Moving freight, transporting someone, photo flight, bug survey, glider towing ….entries of that nature, and of course pleasure flying, all show up in that column.  Unfortunately, all my notes are very brief, and therefore difficult to draw memories from. 

     A couple of things jump out at me numerous times when I read through the pages.  The first is the names I entered …. names of passengers carried.  There are plenty of unfamiliar names, people I can’t recall anything about.  I have no idea who they are.  All pilots will have similar entries.  We can’t know everyone who has ever flown with us of course, but I’d be willing to bet just about every one of those people will remember us!  Flying must still be an awesome experience to the non-pilot, just like it was for me before learning to fly.  Pilots will remember their first flights, and even the name of the person that flew them that day.  The fact that we’re still flying is tribute to the wonderful experience given to us by the man or woman who was responsible for our first flight.  You never know when you’re making history! 

      The second most common entry in my book, is serious weather, particularly wind, and how it was a big problem for me.  Some of the notes include “turbulence bordering on extreme, dangerous, even deadly,” and some described as “flying a plane that’s like a cork in a Jacuzzi”.   Most of it occurred while working, certainly not on pleasure flights.  I’m a fair-weather flyer.  If I don’t have to go, and if there’s any doubt, I won’t. 

      In retrospect, it’s too bad I did not make use of all the space offered in the log book, and fill up that space with the notes for stories and memories.  When I see “bush strips” entered, there’s nothing to describe the little fix-it jobs using a file on the prop to remove the gravel nicks.  Or having the foresight to carry a siphon hose for when the pump in the fuel cache barrels breaks down.  I learned to keep it simple when I needed to depend on refueling off airport.  There’s nothing to break when you carry a hose and a couple of 5-gallon gas cans. 

      I may never know the name of a helicopter pilot who talked me through some forty or fifty miles of very bad weather one day.  As I flew about ten minutes behind him, his directions on the radio guided me on when to turn, climb or descend, and got me through some heavy scud I accidentally blundered in to.  I probably owe my life, or at the very least, the safe outcome of that flight to him.  But I never wrote his name in my log book.

      There were many days, even nights I’ve spent waiting out weather during unscheduled stops at tiny, unfamiliar airports.  I remember doing it, but neglected at the time to write any details in my log book.  What an opportunity for memories, and perhaps some good notes for these articles.   I’ve slept on lumpy couches inside flying club buildings.  There have been countless hours sitting in deserted airport shacks reading old magazines.  And I’ve also met some pretty interesting people at places like that …. but again, only few details exist. 

      Pilots, young and old, low-time and high-time, should take notice of this.  Too many stories and memories are lost from my career.  But I do make use of the log book space now.  And it’s not too late for other pilots to do the same.  It requires very little time to enter details, however minor.  You never know when you will appreciate having them.  You may not want to get too personal or add anything incriminating, but don’t be afraid that you’re putting trivial, unofficial information in that book.  It’s yours, and it’s easy to buy another when this one is filled. 

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