Logging actual while VFR

E_Dawg

Moderator
OK say you're an instrument rated pilot, on an IFR flight plan in legal VMC (say it's CAVU for argument). You're on a moonless night over water. We'd probably all agree that you can log actual (all flight soley by refrence to instruments).

OK now say you're a student pilot soloing in the practice area at night over that same body of water. You don't see any horizon but you are able to fly by reference to instrumets. Can you log actual?

And for the picky people... No need to say how stupid it is to solo this person in those conditions.... it's just for the sake of argument, and if it bothers you substitude a non instrument rated private.

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Unrelated: tonight I was doing the 10 solo night takeoffs and landings for the Comm; I got so see the light gun signals by request... it was cool to actually see the real thing before I really need it.
 

EatSleepFly

Well-Known Member
Didn't we just have this thread not too long ago?

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We'd probably all agree that you can log actual (all flight soley by refrence to instruments).

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No way...I strongly disagree. Refer to FAR 61.51(g)(1)- you can only log actual in IMC. And IMC means Instrument Meteorological Conditions. Light conditions are not meteorological conditions. Clouds are. Maybe you could log it as simulated, but I would think that is still a stretch.
 

stuckingfk

Well-Known Member
You can log actual. My ground school instructor at the moment gave us an example just like this. "Can a pilot log actual if he is at least 500 feet below a solid cloud layer over Lake Michigan?" The answer he gave was yes, the if the pilot is flying solely by reference to instruments.
 

Eagle

New Member
Last night I flew to the mountais of NY State. we were at 11,500ft, and there was no *$#*&^ way it was a VFR flight, it was so hazy you could make out the gound if you looked strait down, and the cloud layers were all over the place but real thin. We were in VMC the entire way, but I would never ever suggest a VFR only pilot try and fly on day like that.

We call them JFKjr days.

I did however (or will if I remember to put it in the book) log it as VFR.
 

EatSleepFly

Well-Known Member
lruppert,

While I agree that the pilot may be flying solely by reference to instruments due to lack of a defined horizon, if he is not in actual instrument flight conditions (IN THE CLOUDS)- he cannot log actual.

"Solely by reference to instruments" doesn't mean squat by itself. You have to be in ACTUAL or SIMULATED instrument meteorological conditions, and then log it as the appropriate one. I encourage you to reread and look closely at 61.51(g)(1).
 

Cheechako

Well-Known Member
Here's another angle:
I did a google search for the FARs and found this at: http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/cfrhtml_00/Title_14/14cfr61_00.html

14 CFR 61.51
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(g) Logging instrument flight time. (1) A person may log instrument time only for that flight time when the person operates the aircraft solely by reference to instruments under actual or simulated instrument flight conditions.


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I guess we need to define actual instrument flight conditions.

FAR 1.1 has no definition for actual, just IFR conditions:
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IFR conditions means weather conditions below the minimum for flight under visual flight rules.

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So, what's the minimum for visual flight rules? It doesn't mean in the clouds. I'm sure many of us have flown on smokey or hazy days when tower visibility is less than 3 miles without a cloud in the sky. That's IFR conditions, If I fly in that, I'm going to log IFR.

Now, to the question of flying VFR without reference to the horizon. . . That's a bit hazy.
I'll log actual for that because I'm operating the aircraft solely by reference to instruments. It may be a bit of a stretch to say that's "actual" conditions, but I believe it's the intent of the regulation.


Sheesh, this post took way to long to formulate!
 

EatSleepFly

Well-Known Member
Well, I also did some research on the subject, and it appears that the FAA shares your viewpoint SkyWChris. So apparently, in even the FAA's eyes I have been shortchanging myself on actual instrument time all along, as I only log actual when I'm in the clouds. Here is the excerpt from the FAA's FAQ Section:

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QUESTION: The question came up about logging “actual” instrument time when over the desert at night with no visual references. When you are flying with sole reference to instruments, is that actual time? If not, is it “simulated” instrument time? Our take on the question is actual instrument time can only be logged when the aircraft is in IMC. The weather determines actual instrument time, not flying by sole reference to instruments. That settles the actual instrument question, but what about “simulated” instrument time? Our feeling is it can be logged as “simulated instrument time.” It would be the same as having a hood on while flying by sole reference to instruments. What about the requirement for a safety pilot under these conditions? Our answer is "no" because the pilot is still able to "see and avoid" conflicting traffic.

ANSWER: Ref. §61.51(g); The only definition in the rules is the definition on “instrument flight time” and that is addressed in §61.51(g) and is defined as:

(g) Logging instrument flight time.
(1) A person may log instrument time only for that flight time when the person operates the aircraft solely by reference to instruments under actual or simulated instrument flight conditions.

However, I understand your question to be that you’re asking for a definition of “actual instrument time” as opposed to “simulated instrument time.” I believe you’re interchanging the terms “actual instrument time” where the rules only state “actual instrument conditions.” And you state “simulated instrument time” but the rules only state “simulated instrument conditions.” So there is no official FAA definition on “actual instrument time” or “simulated instrument time” in the FARs, FAA Orders, advisory circulars, FAA bulletins, etc. And the reason why the FAA has never officially defined “actual instrument time” or “simulated instrument time” is because in all of the aeronautical experience requirements for pilot certificate and/or ratings in Part 61, the rule does not differentiate between “actual instrument time” as opposed to “simulated instrument time.” In fact, in Part 61 it only refers to the aeronautical experience for instrument time to be “. . . instrument flight time, in actual or simulated instrument conditions . . .” So it is irrelevant whether the instrument flight time is logged as “actual instrument time” or “simulated instrument time.” Part 61 only refers to “actual instrument conditions” or “simulated instrument conditions.”

I agree with your statement that just because a person is flying “. . . by sole reference to instruments . . .” has nothing to do with whether the flight can be logged as “actual instrument time” or “simulated instrument time.” Only the weather conditions establish whether the flight is in “actual instrument conditions.” And that is dependent on the weather conditions where the aircraft is physically located and the pilot makes that determination as to whether the flight is in “actual instrument conditions” or he is performing instrument flight under “simulated instrument conditions.” But for a “quick and easy” answer to your question, it was always my understanding if I were flying in weather conditions that were less than the VFR weather minimums defined in §91.155 and I was flying “solely by reference to instruments” then that was the determining factor for being able log instrument flight under “actual instrument conditions.” [Emphasis Added]

Otherwise, if I were flying solely by reference to instruments in VMC conditions then I would log it as instrument flight in “simulated instrument conditions.” In your example, the flight is clear of clouds and in good visibility conditions at night over the desert with an overcast above and no visible horizon. But other examples could include flight between sloping cloud layers or flight between layers of clouds at night. These could equally meet the requirement for operations that can only be accomplished solely by reference to instruments. But, the lack of sufficient visual reference to maintain aircraft control without using instruments does not eliminate the possibility of collision hazard with other aircraft or terrain.
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So, I've been wrong all along I guess. I still don't think that makes any sense, as darkness alone doesn't make it a meteorological condition....but oh well. Why can't the FAA just make a stinkin definition for "actual instrument time"?
 

stuckingfk

Well-Known Member
Do you have a link the FAA FAQ's? I talked to my professor again and he said that flying solely by reference to instruments without a defined horizon and you can't see the ground, you can log actual. Seems that I was right.
 

stuckingfk

Well-Known Member
really, is that where I would check.


I went there and found FAQ's, but I couldn't find anything on instrument flying. Just wanted the link.
 

EatSleepFly

Well-Known Member
I lost it, sorry. It took me forever to find, but it was on the FAA's site someplace. I will post it if I ever find it.
 

Mavmb

Well-Known Member
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Do you have a link the FAA FAQ's? I talked to my professor again and he said that flying solely by reference to instruments without a defined horizon and you can't see the ground, you can log actual. Seems that I was right.



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Now I was talking to some senior pilots and they said just the opposite of this. I did a solo flight in pitch black over Northern AZ on an instrument flight plan and they said I could not log it as actual time unless I was in the clouds!

So I just kept the instrument collumns in my logbook blank because I want to avoid gray areas in my logbook. Does anybody else have an opinion on this? Of course, I'd like to log times when I have to fly by instruments "actual time." And in my own meaningless personal opinion, I think you should be able to log actual flight time if the only to way to fly the airplane is -- solely by reference to instruments. But unfortunately, I'm not the FAA!
 

EatSleepFly

Well-Known Member
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Now I was talking to some senior pilots and they said just the opposite of this. I did a solo flight in pitch black over Northern AZ on an instrument flight plan and they said I could not log it as actual time unless I was in the clouds!

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Thats the way I see it, and thats the way I log it. If I'm shortchanging myself on instrument time, so be it. I'm not going to buy into this B.S. of logging actual just because its dark out, or I'm in less than VFR conditions but not clouds. Just my opinion, which...apparently is wrong.
 

E_Dawg

Moderator
The way I log it is I just ask myself if I could maintain control without looking inside. That makes it pretty clear for me anyways.
 

MikeD

Administrator
Staff member
[ QUOTE ]
[ QUOTE ]
Now I was talking to some senior pilots and they said just the opposite of this. I did a solo flight in pitch black over Northern AZ on an instrument flight plan and they said I could not log it as actual time unless I was in the clouds!

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Thats the way I see it, and thats the way I log it. If I'm shortchanging myself on instrument time, so be it. I'm not going to buy into this B.S. of logging actual just because its dark out, or I'm in less than VFR conditions but not clouds. Just my opinion, which...apparently is wrong.


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I've always done the same thing. In fact, I can only think of a maybe a couple of night VFR flights where I actually had to do any reference to the instruments; and that's simply because I had nothing else to do, not because I needed to. Maybe I've been short-changing myself too in that regard, but I don't care. Only a couple of times was it SO dark out that it felt like I was flying a sim and there was no feeling of relative motion to coincide with the movement of the instruments.

In fact, I take issue all the time with my fellow pilots that fly night VFR with NVGs, and still log the whole flight as night and actual instrument. What a crock. All my actual time is when I've been IMC WX-wise; not IMC light-wise.
 

EatSleepFly

Well-Known Member
Good...glad I'm not the only one!


Its really kind of a moot point anyways...I get a decent amount of actual (real, in-cloud actual) thanks to the lovely weather here in Ohio.
 

MikeD

Administrator
Staff member
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Good...glad I'm not the only one!


Its really kind of a moot point anyways...I get a decent amount of actual (real, in-cloud actual) thanks to the lovely weather here in Ohio.

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I flew in the southwest all of my civilian career and got a average to below average amount; except in winter and monsoon time, and when I'd tool up to Utah and Colorado. But my 13 months in Korea and flying in Afghanistan in the winters both places made up for anything. But still, I don't care how much actual I have, doesn't matter to me much.

Also, unlike most other military pilots, I log my time from takeoff roll to touchdown and DON'T add 0.1 taxi time. I think logging taxi time is a crock anyway.
 

ready2fly

Well-Known Member
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really, is that where I would check.


I went there and found FAQ's, but I couldn't find anything on instrument flying. Just wanted the link.

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Take it easy lruppert. Just trying to help out. Put the smartass back in the can.
 

MidlifeFlyer

Well-Known Member
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OK now say you're a student pilot soloing in the practice area at night over that same body of water. You don't see any horizon but you are able to fly by reference to instruments. Can you log actual?


[/ QUOTE ]Yup. Doesn't make any difference. The issue is whether the flight was in actual instrument conditions, not whether it was technically VFR or IFR. If the only way to remain upright is by using the instruments, it's "actual."

The FAA Legal department settled this almost 20 years ago in the famous "moonless night opinion."

==============================
November 7, 1984
Mr. Joseph P. Carr

Dear Mr. Carr:
This is in response to your letter asking questions about instrument flight time.
First, you ask for an interpretation of Section 61.51(c)(4) of the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) regarding the logging of instrument flight time. You ask whether, for instance, a flight over the ocean on a moonless night without a discernible horizon could be logged as actual instrument flight time.

[unrelated portion snipped]

As you know, Section 61.51(c)(4) provides rules for the logging of instrument flight time which may be used to meet the requirements of a certificate or rating, or to meet the recent flight experience requirements of Part 61. That section provides in part, that a pilot may log as instrument flight time only that time during which he or she operates the aircraft solely by reference to instruments, under actual (instrument meteorological conditions (imc)) or simulated instrument flight conditions. "Simulated" instrument conditions occur when the pilot's vision outside of the aircraft is intentionally restricted, such as by a hood or goggles. "Actual" instrument flight conditions occur when some outside conditions make it necessary for the pilot to use the aircraft instruments in order to maintain adequate control over the aircraft. Typically, these conditions involve adverse weather conditions.

To answer your first question, actual instrument conditions may occur in the case you described a moonless night over the ocean with no discernible horizon, if use of the instruments is necessary to maintain adequate control over the aircraft. The determination as to whether flight by reference to instruments is necessary is somewhat subjective and based in part on the sound judgment of the pilot. Note that, under Section 61.51(b)(3), the pilot must log the conditions of the flight. The log should include the reasons for determining that the flight was under actual instrument conditions in case the pilot later would be called on to prove that the actual instrument flight time logged was legitimate.

[unrelated portion snipped]

Sincerely,
/s/
John H. Cassady
Assistant Chief counsel
Regulations and Enforcement Division
 
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