Logbooks are a reflection of more than just your pilot proficiency. As you gain experience, you'll be recording every flight hour, every airplane, and every simulator event to provide a legal record of your aeronautical experience. No matter the size of your logbook, it's important to make clear, concise entries and remember that unlike a journal or diary, it will play a decisive role in your flying career. Every employer will scrutinize its contents to see if the flying experience you claim in your résumé is substantiated by the entries in your logbook.
Make your entries in pen using tenths of hours (0.1 equals 6 minutes), as opposed to minutes, using one line per flight. At the end of a page, total each column separately and then cross-check those numbers before writing the totals in ink at the bottom of each page.
Use one color of ink (preferably black) in your log and try to keep it uniform by using the same type of pen throughout. If you make mistakes, cross-outs and correction fluid or tape are acceptable, as long as the corrections are done neatly.
Your types of pilot time (PIC, Dual Received, SIC) should add up to your total time, as should your day plus night time. Time in different types of equipment flown (SEL, MEL, Glider, Helicopter, and the like) should add up to your total time. Cross-check these totals at the bottom of each page before you transfer them to the next page.
Common errors include columns not totaled nor carried forward; totals completed in pencil, becoming smudged and grimy with age; completed pages not signed; illegible or incomplete entries; and large, blank gaps between entries.
Every four to six months, copy the last few pages of your current log and store the pages in a secure, fireproof location. You'll have a backup if the book is lost, stolen, or destroyed.
Ideally, your log should be not only a record of your accomplishments but also a reflection of the pride you take in your flying. Notations in the remarks section should describe highlights of your airborne adventures such as "great sunset" or "first revenue flight."
Your logbooks are legal documents that reflect your attitude toward flying and show how you regard your aviation career. A descriptive log can give a potential employer a good idea of you and your flying habits and provide you with many hours of enjoyment as you review your flying career in years to come. It also shows how you will handle your pilot duties (keeping up the cockpit logs is one of them) if an employer chooses to hire you.
Capt. Karen Kahn is the author of Flight Guide for Success: Tips and Tactics for the Aspiring Airline Pilot and a career counselor. A Master CFI and 30-year airline pilot, she flies the Boeing 757/767 for a major U.S. carrier.