Category Archives: Resources

7 Reasons to Use Excel as Your Electronic Logbook

If you’re thinking about starting an electronic logbook, spreadsheet software is the perfect tool for it.  Here are some prime reasons to build your own logbook spreadsheet or find a template already made.

Microsoft-Excel, Apple-Numbers, LibreOffice-Calc, Google-Sheets, the list goes on and on, but they all share the same excellent characteristics for keeping your pilot logbook totaled and up to date.


It’s free

Well… Microsoft Excel isn’t free, but there are free versions such as the Google Drive’s ‘Sheets,’ or my personal favorite, LibreOffice ‘Calc.’  But whatever your preference in spreadsheet software, chances are you already have access to it and won’t have to invest any extra money.


It’s Multi-Platform

All of the above programs and formats can be used on basically any computer or handheld device.


It’s Easy to Import and Export

If you are considering purchasing some professional logbook software, or maybe you’re thinking of canceling your subscription, consider this:

It’s super easy to import from any source into spreadsheet software.  It’s also equally easy to export to multiple formats, such as CSV which can then be imported into other programs.  So, you can also easily change your mind later, and purchase logbook software.  But I doubt you will 😉

Also, when you start flying professionally, your company will probably keep track of your flight hours for you.  The format in which they let you access this data might be different depending on the company, but it’s very easy to sort this out in Excel. You can even create a custom macro to do sorting for you.  With other logbook software, you are pretty much stuck with whatever import functions they offer.


It’s cloud friendly

Keep your spreadsheet file in some type of cloud, Apple, Google Drive, etc., and you can access it from any computer, tablet, or phone. You can also feel better about there being a backup copy out there, on a server somewhere. But maybe keep a copy on a USB drive in some secure underground vault as well.


It’s Completely & Infinitely Customizable:


  • Make it look like your paper logbook

Personally, I think it’s best to keep a paper logbook and a digital logbook. Letting Excel total my pages has helped me find numerous errors in my paper logbook, while keeping a paper logbook has also helped me discover import and data-entry errors within my electronic logbook. They work together quite nicely.


  • Special functions for totals, currency, and quality control

Throughout your training and aviation career, there will be lots of different totals that need to be calculated.  IACRA, insurance forms, job applications, currency, etc.  No matter what needs to be calculated, sorted, or totaled, there is a function capable of doing it.


  • Make cool graphics

Having all of your logbook data collected in a spreadsheet will also let you play with the data in chart form.  You can get as geeky as you want with it!

Updating an old Garmin 296

If you’re having trouble updating a Garmin 296 database, it might be because your device doesn’t like the modern USB 3.0 used on most computers today. Try buying an old USB 2.0 hub like this one on Amazon:

I would have never thought it could be so difficult to update the database on a Garmin 296 GPS, especially after spending $50 to purchase it, however after several weeks of different attempts, and multiple conversations with Garmin Tech Support, I finally figured it out.

Problem One:  This GPS can’t be updated on a Mac.

I first tried using my MacBook Pro in OS X, I was excited to see Garmin had software for OS X called “WebUpdater’.

But it didn’t work.

“No Devices were found. Please ensure that your device is connected and turned on and try again.”

Come to find out, although the Garmin WebUpdater software does work on an Apple computer; the actual 296 hardware does not.

Then I attempted it again on my Mac in MS Windows through a virtual machine – Still “No Joy.”


Problem Two:  Garmin requires Windows XP Service Pack (SP) 3 or newer.

“This is an unsupported OS version. Must be Windows XP Service Pack 3 or greater.”

I really thought I had the problem licked this time. I dusted off an old windows laptop that was in the closet, connected it to the internet and attempted to run the update… Turns out my computer had Windows XP SP1.  Still no luck.


Problem Three:  This GPS won’t communicate through a USB 3.0 port.

I finally borrowed a friends Windows 7 laptop computer and was happy that I would finally be done with this project. But for some reason, it still wouldn’t work.

“There was an error communicating with your device. Please make sure your device is plugged in and turned on. If the errors continue to occur, you may need to restart your device.”

Apparently, nearly all new computers have USB 3.0 ports (which are supposed to work with all prior versions of USB) but, according to Garmin tech support, “Plug the unit into a USB 2.0 port, the new USB 3.0 ports are too fast and overwhelm the unit.”

The problem is my computer, and most other modern computers only have USB 3.0.


The Solution:

Find an old USB 2.0 hub, or buy one on online, plug it into your computer’s USB 3.0 port, and plug the garmin into the hub.

Finally, it worked!

Relaxation, Balance, and Confidence

I’ve had the privilege of working with a lot of different pilots over the years. Of these people I’ve seen many different styles and personalities. Fighter pilot wannabes, cranky pilots, ladder climbing politicians, and those just happy to be flying.

It takes all types to keep the aviation industry running, however, there seems to be a common thread among the strongest pilots. From the best student pilots to the highest paid captains, a certain mindset seems to be shared. An overwhelming sense of balanced and relaxed confidence.
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The Best Free Resources

If your wanting to learn more about aviation and becoming a pilot it can be overwhelming sifting through the mass amounts of books, videos, computerized training programs, and other services for sale. Each usually claiming to be better than the rest, and to be the most effective way of learning. Some of these products are worth the money, but why not start with the free ones.
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If you want one thing that will significantly improve your flying ability, help you spend considerably less time and money on training, increase your confidence in the sky, and make your life as a pilot all around easier…  VISUALIZATION!!
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