Using Your Log Book As the Official Family History

Recording milestones in tiny handwriting is an art in itself.

Humorist (and pilot) Jean Shepherd, of "The Christmas Story" fame, wrote that his family history revolved around which used car "the Old Man" was driving at the time — as in: Aunt Gertie had her gall bladder removed just after we got the Hupmobile. Flying Editor Emeritus Richard Collins similarly records family history in his written pilot's logbook — a practice that I picked up, myself. Marriages, births and deaths are all remembered by the flights associated with them. And special memories can be scribbled in between the lines.

As the year draws to a close, it's time to tote up the hours flown. For most of us pilots, it's never enough to satisfy our wishes. It's also a time to evaluate where we need to improve in the coming year. Maybe you didn't get enough exposure to night flying; or you wish you could have spent more time practicing RNAV approaches. Or maybe you remember that aerobatic lesson you took and realize you'd enjoy more of that kind of flying, too.

Pilots are now keeping logs on their computers, and that's both good and bad. Computer files are more efficient and less likely to be lost, but the hands-on experience of keeping up with our written logs adds an intangible dimension that doesn't exist in cyberspace. I tend to combine the two — compiling records of each flight electronically and then going back to fill in the written logs every month or so. Whatever your method or madness, I hope you get as much joy and fulfillment as I do when you go back in time to recall flights from the bygone years.

Happy New Year and fly safely in 2010.