Tip 1 – Logbooks Held Hostage
By: Jerry Temple
Phone: (972) 712-7302      Fax: (972) 712-7303

As published in Charlie Papa Tango™  Fall ’95

Other Publications this article appeared in: The Twin Cessna Flyer  8/95; Cessna Owners Organization 11/96; Flight Safety Waypoints 4/96; Flying Physician Fall ’96


Jerry is a Frisco, Texas (Dallas area) based aircraft dealer specializing in the sales and brokerage of Cessna Twins. He is a former Cessna Aircraft Company Marketing/Sales Official and experienced demo pilot.

Never does a week go by without my hearing of some type of Logbook problem story. I hear them from first time aircraft Buyers and from experienced Owners and Dealers.

Aircraft with missing Logs are worth considerably less than aircraft with complete Logbooks and Maintenance Records. Even those with so called reconstructed Logs take a hit, though not as severe, because of low supply and high demand. Missing Logs can kill a deal, require a major Seller concession, or cause the Buyer to put the aircraft through a much more stringent Pre-Purchase Inspection.

Aircraft owners, please treat your aircraft Logbooks, Records, Work Orders, Tags, etc., like cash. Keep them well secured.

I highly recommend that as soon as you purchase any aircraft, you immediately photocopy every Logbook, Tag, STC and form 337 document, Weight and Balance, Airworthiness Certificate, etc.

Set up a big 8 1/2 x 11″ three-ring binder tagged off as Airframe,  Log #1, #2, #3, etc., Left Engine, Right Engine, Left Prop, Right Prop, STC/337 Forms, Weight and Balance, Tags and Miscellaneous.  It is likely to be a two or three hour job. Do one hour a day or dedicate a Saturday morning to this very important project. Use different color paper if that helps to clarify the copies, i.e. yellow paper for yellow tags. Once you are done, you have just created a valuable insurance policy.

Now, take the copied version to a competent inspector or notary and ask them to simply sign a letter and/or make an entry in your copied version stating that it is an exact duplication of the originals through a certain date. Now if your Logs are lost or stolen, you have certified proof.

I sit in constant amazement at some of the stories I hear. I regularly see Logbooks scattered about shop offices, in aircraft glove compartments, wing lockers, rear shelves, on hangar desks and tables, in auto trunks, etc. You’re asking for big trouble. Travel with your photocopied version, especially if  you are going outside of the USA. If the aircraft is broken into, with the Logs stolen, you will still have the originals at home. If the aircraft is stolen and later recovered, you have got the originals at home.

What if you are returning from the Bahamas and have a maintenance problem in Florida? You must leave your Twin Cessna and return to your home out of state. The shop gives you an estimate. Once they “get into it” the bill is twice as much as you had thought it should be. You think they are ripping off a transient stranger. You argue back and forth. It gets ugly. You take your key and go get your airplane. However, the shop has your original logs. You will have a problem selling your aircraft. But, what if all the shop had was a certified photocopy version? Smart owner.

I realize most shops are honest and reputable. Even for routine maintenance and annuals, all the shop needs to be able to do the work is the photocopy version.  Once the annual is completed, bring the originals to the shop and observe the entries. Insist on a comprehensive entry! Then make copies, add them to the photocopied version and again secure the originals.

An experienced dealer recently flew a T210 across several states for a Pre-Purchase Inspection. The Purchase Agreement was in writing but the agreement between the Seller and Buyer, regarding the aircraft being flown to the Buyer for the inspection, was verbal.

A deposit of’ $5,000 was sent with $1,500 not to be returned should the Buyer not wish to purchase the aircraft. After a clear cut price agreement, the Buyer wanted a better price, supposedly due to discrepancies found during the inspection. The Seller decided to not lower the price and to fly his T210 home. However, the Seller had foolishly left the logs with the shop.

The Buyer went to the shop at 1:30 a.m. the day after the inspection, obtained the Logs and demanded the full $5,000 deposit returned. He had the original Logs. The Seller was faced with legal fees and a lengthy legal battle. The low time T210 could not likely be sold, certainly not at top dollar, without its Logs. What if the shop only had the photocopied version? The seller could have simply had a nice flight home in his T210.

I could cite several examples involving shop and Logbook disputes, stolen aircraft, shop bankruptcies and numerous brain twisters of how Logbooks became missing.

There are several firms that offer copying and certification of your aircraft Logs. Each has slightly different procedures. I believe that doing it yourself is best, but a commitment to keep it current is required. When the time comes to sell your aircraft, will the ad read “all Logs and Records okay” or will the caller be told that “The Logs are missing prior to 1974”?

Remember, treat your Logbooks like cash – greenbacks. If you lose them, that is what you will be without. As in big time.