Pilot 1 – “So since I was in the left seat, all that time I must have been pilot in
Pilot 2 – “But I’m a CFI!”
Pilot 1 – “You didn’t teach me anything, you can’t log that as dual or PIC.”
Pilot 2 – “You wanna bet!?!?”
The only thing I can bet on is that you’ve either had, heard, or are going to have an
argument like the one above sometime in your flying career. Don’t you want to be the
one who’s on the right end of the argument? Let’s take a closer look on what exactly is
a PIC and how do you log it properly.
They’re three situations in which a pilot may log pilot in command time (PIC)
-You are the sole manipulator of the controls and operating an aircraft in which you are
Example: You are flying a Cessna 172 and currently hold an airplane
single engine land rating.
-You are the sole occupant in the aircraft
Example: You are properly rated and flying the aircraft solo. NOTE: Split personalities do not count as other occupants!!!
Now for the tough one.
-You are acting as pilot in command of an aircraft by which more than one pilot is
required under that aircrafts type certification or the regulations by which the flight is
This one is a bit tough, in order to fully grasp this idea we must first understand the
difference between logging PIC and acting as PIC.
Acting as PIC – Regulations require that one person on board is always acting as PIC.
This person is legally responsible for the safe operation of that aircraft. However
regulations also allow for one additional person to log PIC as long as that person
generates an experience of sufficient value.
Example: You and a friend both have your private pilot licenses and
airplane single engine land ratings. You rent and Cessna 172 and take off for the sky.
Your friend decides to brush up on his instrument flying and puts on a view limiting
device. You act as his safety pilot, while he is the sole manipulator of the controls. Who
gets to log the PIC?
There are two answers to this question. Who did you elect to be the legal acting PIC? If
your friend said he’ll be the legal PIC or the acting PIC, he not only assumes all legal
responsibility, he is the only one who can log PIC. While you as a safety pilot can only
log SIC. Second and command in a 172, pretty good title huh?
The second more common scenario is while your friend is “under the hood” you act not
only as safety pilot, but also as PIC. Now you are responsible for the safety of the flight,
yet your friend is still the sole manipulator of the controls. This time both the safety pilot
acting as PIC and the pilot flying can log PIC.
Continuing with the safety pilot theme there is one other area that students ask me
about. “What if I act as a safety pilot for my friend in a Piper Arrow? I don’t have my
complex endorsement.” Although you do not have your complex endorsement your
friend is still required to have a safety pilot, and you are rating as single engine land. In
this situation you cannot log PIC but you can log it as SIC.
Now for the real heartbreaker, what if my friend and I go flying, both with single engine
land ratings and no one wears a view limiting device. Is there any situation that we
could both log PIC?
Unfortunately that is not possible, I’ve heard all the arguments from both sides of the
fence but the regulations 61.51(e) states all that we’ve said above.
What about logging time for instructors?
61.51(e)(3) states an instructor may log flight time as PIC when that individual is
What about training for my complex or high performance endorsement?
Remember, this goes back to our acting or logging as PIC. As long as you are training,
with an authorized instructor who has said endorsement you are pursuing you can log
that time as PIC since your instructor is acting as PIC. Again this can be found in 61.51
I hope this clears up any misconceptions around the airport. Remember through
education and knowledge you can become a safer pilot.