AFW Safety

A Culture of Professionalism

AFW Safety News: Logging Cross-Country Time

Logging Cross-Country Time

It is probably easier to navigate through the fog without instruments than trying to determine how to log cross-country time.  How you classify your flight time as cross-country depends upon the context of its use.  As the FAA has written before, there are multiple ways to define the logging of cross-country time.  

First:  The FAA defines cross-country time under FAR 61.1 (b)(3)(i).  This definition (there are actually some exceptions; however, for our purposes, it works) describes how to generally log cross-country time.  Basically, if you take off from an airport, find your way to another airport, and land by pilot age, GPS, VOR, etc, you’ve completed a cross-country flight.  You can’t simply fly over an airport, look down, or fly a missed approach at an airport and fly home.  Touch and go’s aren’t specifically excluded so those are fine 🙂 

Second:  The FAA requires some additional requirements if you want to apply the logged cross-country time defined above to the aeronautical experience requirements for a particular license or rating.

For example, using the first definition you could log cross-country time from Montgomery Airport – Gillespie, San Diego (KMYF to KSEE), a distance of about 10 miles, and land at KSEE.  However, since it isn’t more than 50 nm straight-line distance (25 for rotorcraft or sport pilot), you can’t use that for a rating time for the aeronautical experience requirements. There are some exceptions for Hawaii, etc.; however, they don’t apply to most pilots.

If you remember from your latest check ride, you would log the X-C time, then prove to the DPE that each flight met the aeronautical experience requirements for that rating.  If it didn’t, they wouldn’t tell you your logging of X-C time was incorrect. It would simply be that the X-C time didn’t meet the requirements for that particular rating.

The FAA has published various letters regarding the recording of flight time.  One of the most pertinent to this topic can be found here. also has a useful discussion and graphic on their site:

For the purposes of AFW and our pilot requirements, we evaluate the required cross-country flight time based upon the FAA’s first definition of flight time (FAR 61.1 (b))  and the pilot’s reporting of that time to us.

Thanks for being a part of AFW!

Rich Pickett, Safety Officer


If you have any specific questions about safety operations, please reach out to our safety team below.


Bruce Poulton, AFW Safety Officer
[email protected]

Alexios Stavropoulos, AFW Safety Officer
Bruce[email protected]

General Safety Email
[email protected]

Share this Article:

Subscribe to get our best content in your inbox


More Safety Articles


July Safety Update

Passengers. ATC. Weather. Evil instructors. That little needle that’s pointing somewhere it shouldn’t. Stuff that demands your attention when you’d rather just be pre-flying, flying, or post-flying. We pilots are

Read More »

April 2023 Safety Report

Pleasant greetings to all.  I feel immensely privileged to be able to address you all and it is a position that I will never take lightly.  The process of Threat

Read More »
instrument panel inside small plane 

What is Hard IFR?

Winter is almost over (but not quite) and the weather is changing. Spring is a time of quickly developing weather systems and unpredictable weather. Not that long ago I sat

Read More »

Mountain Flying

Are you a mountain pilot?  You probably are even if you aren’t aware of it.  In most of Angel Flight West’s territory we encounter many, or even all, of the

Read More »

Declaring an Emergency

Gather a room full of pilots and ask them the following questions: How many of you have had an emergency while in flight? How many of you have declared an

Read More »

Density Altitude

All pilots learn about density altitude yet most pilots never experience the truly detrimental effect it can have.   Brian, a friend of mine, flying a Piper Cherokee 160 and carrying

Read More »

Non-Tower Airport Operations

Since there is a high likelihood that at least one airport on most missions is uncontrolled or non-towered, we’d like to share some thoughts on uncontrolled airport operations.  If you

Read More »

Required Reports

In the course of my activities as a Flight Instructor and Mission Orientation Pilot, I take some time to review various pilot reporting requirements.  One of the many things I’ve

Read More »

Be Prepared

Angel Flight West believes that we should share what we learn about our missions and the airports we visit so that we can learn from each other.  So, with that

Read More »

Personal Minimums

All pilots, especially those who are instrument rated (those that are licensed by the FAA to fly in instrument meteorological conditions – i.e. clouds), are familiar with the term ‘personal

Read More »

Passengers First

You may be aware that in 2008 there were three Angel Flight accidents with fatalities in other Angel Flight regions. To say this may be tempting fate, but to date

Read More »