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Experimental airplanes

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Private Pilot

As a private pilot can I log time in an experimental airplane?

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10 Answers

  1. James MacGregor CFI on Jul 15, 2011

    yep, heck you can even log time in a balloon.

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  2. Kent Shook on Jul 16, 2011

    The most complete answer can be found in FAR 61.51. In fact, 61.51(e)(1)(i) states that you may not only log time, but you may log pilot in command time for any time that you are the sole manipulator of the flight controls in an aircraft for which you are rated, where “rated” is defined as category and class (and type, if a type rating is required).
    So, if you are a Private Pilot with an Airplane Single Engine Land rating, you may log PIC time for any time you spend as sole manipulator of the flight controls in any single-engine land airplane, be it a certified airplane, an experimental, or even a PC-12.
    You may NOT log time, unless you are receiving instruction, in any other type of aircraft. James is incorrect about you being able to log time in a balloon, unless you are receiving instruction. Whenever you have a logging question, 61.51 is the place to look.

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  3. James MacGregor CFI on Jul 16, 2011

      I should have elaborated that a little more.
     If you are rated to fly a baloon you can log that time towards other ratings, just as you can log glider (once rated) time towards TT for say a commerical etc.

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  4. Matthew Waugh on Jul 17, 2011

    People often confuse the question “can I log this” with “can I use this time towards currency or a rating” – and that’s the case here with the balloon question.
    If you go for a ride in a balloon (you are not rated and receive no instruction), by all means log it. I can’t think of a better place to record such an event. You may not use that time towards recency of experience, or a new rating, or, well, anything really. But you CAN log it.

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  5. Kent Shook on Jul 17, 2011

    If you log anything that’s not specifically spelled out in 61.51, best to tread carefully – And make darn sure that you do NOT add the time up in whatever colums. Better yet, don’t put any numbers in except in the remarks (and, of course, the date). Doing otherwise is giving the FAA, insurance companies, potential employers, etc rope to hang you with.

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  6. Matthew Waugh on Jul 17, 2011

    Kent – like anything it’s good to know what you’re doing when you do it, otherwise all sorts of nasty things can happen. The pitfalls open to the unwary pilot even if they log EXACTLY by 61.51 are many and numerous. Who logs post Private solo time? Nobody until they start figuring out what it takes to get a commercial certificate. A logbook is not infallible.
    All I’m saying is the oft staked out position that a logbook is a bible that may only be scribed upon by the chosen few is hogwash. You can CAN log anything you want in a logbook but certainly you need to know what you CAN use for currency and in applying for new ratings. 

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  7. James MacGregor CFI on Jul 17, 2011

      Ok, this is getting a tad over complicated and silly.
     If you are LICENSED/RATED to fly a aircraft, meaning you can legally fly the aircraft all by yourself (be it a experimental, standard catagory, transport catagory, chopper, glider, gyrocopter, etc) you CAN LOG IT as PIC time! (if you were PIC of course).
    Now some ratings require xx time be in powerd aircraft, or helicopter etc. but that is a whole nother question which I dont think you are asking here.
     So again, YES you can log time in a expermental aircraft just the same as in a Cessna.

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  8. Kent Shook on Jul 20, 2011

    Yes, a bit complicated, but I think we’ve all heard enough OWT’s about logging to agree that we’d like to spread better understanding of the logging regs. Speaking of which, you do NOT have to be the PIC to log PIC in this instance (or any of the many others logged under 61.51(e)(1)(i)), you only have to be sole manipulator of the controls for the time that you log. 
    Matthew, true there are many pitfalls – But I would say there are many MORE if you log “casually” (ie log things that aren’t present in 61.51). And yes I did and still do log post-private solo time, but maybe I’m just more CDO than the average pilot. (You know, CDO… It’s like OCD, but in order like it should be. 😉

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  9. Kris Kortokrax on Oct 19, 2011

    Look at 61.31(l)(2) Exceptions: The rating limitations of this section to not apply to-
    (iii) The holder of a pilot certificate when operating an aircraft under the authority of – (B) An experimental certificate, unless the operation involves carrying a passenger;
    (iv) The holder of a pilot certificate with a lighter-than-air category rating when operating a balloon;
    Thus, if the operating limitations of the experimental aircraft do not require a category/class rating and you possess a pilot certificate, you may fly it solo without the requisite rating and as sole occupant of the aircraft, you may log PIC.  Most common scenario is a person who has a pilot certificate ASEL who decides to build a gyroplane.  If the gyroplane operating limitations do not require category/class, then, however foolish it might be, you could fly it solo and log PIC time.
    As can be seen in the above regulatory cite, one can in fact pilot a balloon without being rated and while not receiving instruction, if one has a lighter than air category rating (Blimp pilot could fly a balloon without balloon class rating).

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  10. Johanthan Ingensson Logan on Nov 06, 2011

    This advice is gold for pre CPL. I’ve been flying RA-AUS (recreational Australia) Cub Crafters Sport Cub and Evektor SportStars for years and next year I will be starting my CPL course at UniSA. I was told straight off by the programme director that 100 of my hours in these LSAs would count towads my CPL hours for getting my license but I will still do the complete course because I want all the hours I can get.
    If all goes to plan I should be graduating with a CPL MECIR in April 2013. Here’s where it gets interesting. I just found a charity that is doing medical emergency and education flights in Africa using the STOL CH 801
    registered as EXPERIMENTAL aircraft. (The reasons are genius).
    This is the dream I had years ago when I started studying Nursing and taking flying seriously instead of just loving it.
    My question is, ‘will hours flying in experimentally registered 4 seat airplanes as volunteer PIC count as requisit hours down the track when I want to apply for a paying CPL job or does the plane have to be registered as a commercial aircraft?’
    I would hate for stupid regulations to crush my dreams yet again.

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