Beyond the “logbook” – recording flight memories

One of the more memorable flights where I was not PIC happened the day after the launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis on STS-129. I went out to Titusville airport with Chris Floyd, who was also an attendee of the first NASA launch tweet up. He had flown his beautiful Mooney all the way from California and we were going to do some flying. We climbed into the airplane, N37MG with another non-pilot friend of mine who had come down to Florida to see the launch as well in the backseat, I was in the right seat.

After we reached 1500 AGL or so Chris handed over the plane and let me start to get the feel of it, which was amazing. Remember, I’ve got about 200 hours in Cherokee 140s, Archers and a couple hours in 172s at this point and here we are going 200 knots. I was behind the airplane like you would not believe – a fact I told him pretty quickly, but everything was OK – he could tell and had it under control.

It was a fun flight, but what happened after the flight sticks in my mind and it’s worth discussing after talking about lost logbooks. This idea isn’t really for the professional pilots out there on every flight, but if you’re in flying because you just absolutely love it, think about it.

He handed me a logbook – but it wasn’t lined paper, it was a full-size book that had travel-themed color blank pages. I would consider it a scrapbook, but anybody serious about their scrapbooking probably wouldn’t agree. He also carried a portable Polaroid printer and had taken a couple photos in flight. After landing he printed them out, prints out two copies and handed us one set and kept the others. So we put his set on the next empty page and wrote about the flight from our perspective.

This is a great way to record aspects of your flying that you either don’t notice or would never think to record. Your logbook might say “cut off in the pattern, the controllers vectored me all over where I didn’t want to be” and your passenger’s entry in your OTHER logbook may say “the sunrise out the window was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen – I’ll never think of transportation the same way.” You may never hear this type of stuff from your passengers but when you make them write it it’s recorded.

To be honest I’ve yet to implement this idea, as great as I think it is just because I haven’t found the right book, laziness, everything.

So my advice to myself, and you, is to start soon. Go back and write down your favorite stories so they’re recorded. Add photos. In some ways, it’s a hard copy blog. But there’s just something about handwritten notes and records that feels superior to “all binary” data.

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