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6 Answers

Cross Country Confusion!

Asked by: 999 views FAA Regulations, Private Pilot, Student Pilot

So here I am, trying to check off all the boxes for my ASEL rating, and I'm coming up on the cross country requirement.  Of course there is the biggie, 150 miles total distance, one leg over 50 nm.  No problem there, easy enough to understand.  My question lies with the requirement of 61.109, a.5.(i) which states "5 hours of solo cross country time"

61.1 defines, for the purposes of meeting aeronautical experience, a cross country flight as one to an airport more than 50 nm from the point of departure.

61.93, which details solo cross country flight requirements, talks at length about flights over 25 nm.  And specifically, 61.93, b.2 states "

Repeated specific solo cross-country flights may be made to another airport that is within 50 nautical miles of the airport from which the flight originated, provided—

(i) The authorized instructor has given the student flight training in both directions over the route, including entering and exiting the traffic patterns, takeoffs, and landings at the airports to be used;

(ii) The authorized instructor who gave the training has endorsed the student's logbook certifying that the student is proficient to make such flights;

(iii) The student has a solo flight endorsement in accordance with §61.87 of this part; and

(iv) The student has a solo cross country flight endorsement in accordance with paragraph (c) of this section; however, for repeated solo cross country flights to another airport within 50 nautical miles from which the flight originated, separate endorsements are not required to be made for each flight."

So, the nitty gritty of the question is this.... for the flight time to count towards the required 5 hours of solo cross country time, must the flight be greater than 50 nm, or not?

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6 Answers



  1. EAD on Jul 09, 2017

    Yes, your 5 hours of experience needs to be to an airport at least 50NM away since you are using it to meet “Aeronautical Experience” requirements for your rating.

    61.1 Defines cross country time as any time that includes a landing at a point other than the departure point and “That involves the use of dead reckoning, pilotage, electronic navigation aids, radio aids, or other navigation systems to navigate to the landing point.”

    So you can log cross country time to an airport 10 miles down the road (since you have to navigate in some manner and following a road would be pilotage) BUT you wouldn’t be able to use that solo cross country time as the basis for the rating (except as total time and PIC).

    Personally, I keep 2 columns in my logbook for XC. One is for total XC time, the other tracks any >50nm time.

    The <50nm solo endorsement is likely more for instructor convenience so that a student doesn't need a XC solo endorsement every time they want to go do pattern work at that nearby airport.

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  2. Mark Kolber on Jul 09, 2017

    Yes it does. As you said while you went through them, only one of the regulations you cited apply to cross-country time that counts toward your private certificate.

    61.93 doesn’t deal with logging cross country time at all. If you read it carefully, you will see it only deals with the training and endorsement that allows a student pilot to fly solo to an airport more than 25 NM away.

    Think of it this way: as EAD pointed out, “cross country” is not static. The FAA defines “cross country” as a flight where you land at an airport you didn’t start from. But the FAA puts limits on the type of cross countries that count for certain things.

    So, for example, to “count” toward certain certificate and rating requirements, one of a “cross country” requires at least one landing more than 50 NM away. In order to get privileges to make repeated “cross country” flights more than 25 NM, you need a special endorsement. One of your private qualifying cross countries needs to be a special cross country, even longer; and there is an even longer special “cross country” requirement when you step up to the commercial.

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  3. RickS on Jul 09, 2017

    OK, I think I’ve got it. I can log pretty much any flight where I land at an airport other than where I took off from as x/c. But, only legs that are greater than 50 nm count toward the 5 hour x/c requirement. Do I have it straight?

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  4. Mark Kolber on Jul 10, 2017

    Ouch! Sorry about all the bold text!

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  5. Mark Kolber on Jul 10, 2017

    Almost, Rick. Yes, you’ve got it in terms of understanding the difference between the general definition and what “counts” depending on the purpose.

    But it’s not “50 NM legs.” It’s a flight that “includes a point of landing that was at least a straight-line distance of more than 50 nautical miles from the original point of departure.”

    That means one point of landing >50 NM from where you started the flight. It’s possible to a “countable” cross country flight without any single leg being >50 NM. Don’t know where you are located, but check out this flight in Missouri as an example on an app or on a site like Skyvector: KDMO KRCM KLRY KGLY KDMO. The longest leg is 35 NM long, but it is a “countable” cross country (but not for the “long” cross country) because KLRY is more than 50 NM from KDMO.

    Notice the difference in the language in 61.1 and the language for the “long” solo cross country in 61.109(a) which says, ” one segment of the flight consisting of a straight-line distance of more than 50 nautical miles between the takeoff and landing locations.” That’s a requirement for at least one >50 NM leg.

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  6. RickS on Jul 10, 2017

    Thanks Mark, I do understand, I just failed to convey my understanding through the written word. As an aside, I just completed my big X/C today. 2 of the 3 “legs” were well over 50 (one was 98, the other 99) and the 3rd was 24. Everything went smooth! What I’ve done is highlight the over 50 nm in my logbook to easily find them and add up the time.

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