So you want to log all your drone flights? Good on you!
Here’s the next drone purchase you’ll need to make (that won’t cost an arm and a leg). It’s not some fancy gadget either. It’s a ‘drone logbook,’ and it comes in the form of free smart phone app or tangible notebook.
Why should you log your drone flights?
It’s a place to store important information — what drone you were using, flight type, location and maintenance concerns.
And if you are flying drones commercially, in the U.S. and many other countries, it’s the law. Commercial operators who have 333 exemptions and “blanket” COAs (Certificate of Waiver or Authorization) are required to file reports with the Federal Aviation Administration
And if — like me — you aren’t a commercial drone operator, it’s just sort of fun to see where you have flown, for how long, and document everything that happened for each flight.
Here are some of my top picks:
Hover: best for casual pilots who want a digital flight log system
Hover works with all drones and has easy to use flight logs that are automatically backed up and exportable. The flight logs automatically pull in weather and position data so you only need to fill out a few notes after your flight. In addition to the flight logs, Hover enables pilots to check no-fly zones and weather pre-flight.
Aloft (formerly known as Kittyhawk): best for enterprise operations
The company formerly known as Kittyhawk first launched as post-flight logging utility. Since then the company has moved into more aspects of operations, including mission planning, pre-flight checklists, ability to see live flight traffic and flight logging. It rebranded to take the name Aloft, and since then it’s become a powerhouse in making all sorts of drone flight management software.
These days it has robust options including Aloft Air Control which can be used for UAS fleet management and flight ops and can handle pre-flight, in-flight, and post-flight workflows.
Drone Operator’s Logbook by Jonathan Rupprecht: best for a written logbook
This logbook takes things analog, with an 118-page custom notebook created by commercial pilot and lawyer, Jonathan Rupprecht.
It’s a simple logbook — intended to make it easy for commercial operators to log drone flights and file reports with the FAA. And it’s a must-have for people needing to report in countries outside of the U.S. where it’s required.
But it’s more than a logbook too. It provides step-by-step instructions for best practices of logging flights and clearly outlines reporting requirements.
What’s so appealing about having a hard-copy, rather than a digital logbook? No data theft, it’s easy to flip through pages to show off to potential clients (and build that professional credibility), and for many, it’s simply easier than typing into a smartphone screen. Not to mention, you don’t have to mess around with dead smartphone batteries or no cell reception.
It’s also perfectly sized — large enough to document hundreds of flights, but small and light enough that it could be tucked into most drone cases or backpacks.