Logging Cross Country Time?


Well-Known Member
Ok, so I'm reading through the regs.

I had thought that the cross country time required for instrument rating had to be to a point at least 50NM away. For some reason, 50 sticks in my mind. Maybe it was on the signoff for private.

So, I am looking at the regs. FAR 61.65 (d)(1) Aeronautical experience says:

"A person who applies for an insturment rating must have logged the following:

(1) At least 50 hours of cross-country flight time as pilot in command, of which at least 10 hours must be in airplanes for an instrument-airplane rating; and"

So I can't find anywhere in the regs that define what 'cross-country' actually is. It is not defined in section one with all other definitions. Each time there is a lenght limit on cross country in other parts, it is listed, but not here.

So, what is the requirement for cross-country?

Is it simply to another airport?

I would like to know, and regs or some other reference to back up the definition if someone has that. It certainly would be nice to build the required time on a day when weather doesn't allow me to get very far from the 'local' airports that are 15, 20 or 30 miles away. Or like I had a time I had to turn back on a planned flight because a transponder went dead, and I had to clear the 30NM Class B ring. 35 min out, about the same back. Had about 1.2hrs more I could have logged if I could have just gone over and landed at another airport before returning home.

Not real sure about the answer to your question, but I have another question to tack onto that one. My logbook has both a solo and a PIC column. Now that I have my private and working towards my instrument/commercial do I still log the PIC time as solo time too?
Ok, I can help with that one.

Solo is when you are alone. Period. That's it. Sole occupant.

...which, happens it is one of the 3 times you can log PIC

1. sole occupant (solo)
2. sole manipulator of controls
3. acting as PIC

You can only log solo when you are solo.

If you have a place for solo, and another separate one for PIC, and you fly by yourself, you log the same time in both. If you fly with a friend with you, you are no longer solo.

BTW, a few years back, FARs were slightly rewritten. So now, all SOLO time is considered PIC. Including time that you flew solo as a student pilot. And, it does not specify in the regs that that change is only effective a certain date, so if you had solo time as a student 20 years ago, before the rewrite, you can now add that into your PIC time.

Hope that helps with your question, now if someone can just help me define cross-country as far as logging that time is require.


Your first inclination of fifty miles is correct. You must fly to a point 50 miles from your departure airport and land to be able to count it as a cross-country flight…

Now when speaking of part 135 ops, correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe they consider a cross-country to be a flight with a landing at any airport other than the one that you departed from…
Hey Josh,

"Cross-country time" is defined in 61.1(b)(3) of the FARs, and paragraph (ii) is applicable for meeting the experience requirements for the private, instrument, and commercial ratings in particular. That's were you'll find the 50 NM point-to-point stipulation.

Unfortunately, the short trips won't count for experience towards ratings, but they do count as cross country time to fulfill the requirements for Part 135 PIC qualifications (FAR 135.243). For 135 qualifications, any flight time to a landing point other than the departure point can be counted as cross country as per 61.1(b)(3)(i).

In addition, for all the certs and ratings, the XC time must be with a landing at another airport 50nm away, but once you get to the ATP level you don't need to land at the airport to count it. Why, I have no idea.
Thanks guys.

I did some digging and was coming back here to say I found it in 61.1 as well, but y'all beat me to it

I also went over why ATP was not listed in the section, and as I was highlighting, realized it just says straight-line with nothing about landing for the ATP guys in section (v). Seems weird to me too, but maybe the thinking is someone ATP may have to do some training with their job, go missed, and then return, save landings on the bigger iron, and cost, if the employer is the one paying. Maybe not, but that is all I can think of.

I believe the reason they did that with the ATP certificate was because a lot of the people going for ATP are military pilots, who almost always fly greater than 50 miles and often never land at another airport. They will fly a sortie and almost always return to base. This is why the FAA said that ATP was just 50 miles , no landing needed.