4 easy ways to log your drone flights

So you want to log drone flights? Good on you!

To level up your operations, the next drone purchase you’ll need to make is a system for logging your drone flights. Luckily, it won’t cost an arm and a leg. It’s not necessarily some fancy gadget either. A drone logbook can come in the form of free smart phone app or tangible notebook. If you want to get fancy, you might consider a drone missing planning system to log your drone flights.

But even paid software can be quite affordable for drone pilots and small businesses — often monthly subscription prices come in at less than the price of a sandwich.

Why should you log your drone flights?

A drone logbook is 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:

Aloft: best for enterprise operations

Aloft, 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 its flagship product is an app called Air Aware. Made in partnership with a company called Pilot Institute, the Air Aware app offers real-time insights before, during, and after drone operations. Pilot Institute offers courses on both drones and airplanes on topics including passing the Part 107 test or the Private Pilot exam.

Download Air Aware from the iOS App Store or Google Play Store or use it on the web.

Dronedesk: best mission planning system for small businesses

Image courtesy of Dronedesk

Dronedesk isn’t just about logging flights, but planning them too. Are you wasting hours on drone flight planning? The web-based drone operations management application takes spreadsheets, doc templates, and paper checklists out of the equation, making planning safe drone flights super-efficient.

Dronedesk gathers data for all aspects affecting drone flights — including air, ground and weather intelligence — for you. It makes it possible to easily manage your team, fleet, and generate job packs, flight and maintenance log reports. It starts at $12.50 per month, though there’s also a free trial version.

Hover: best free app for casual pilots

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.

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.

The Drone Operator’s Logbook costs about $15 on Amazon.

4 Comments

  • YvesJusot says:

    You should also look at http://www.DroneLogbook.com:
    – Support import of more than 20 log file type: DJI, 3DR, SenseFly, Yuneec…etc
    Display in 2D and 3D the flight track.
    – Manage your Drone, Equipment, Locations, Battery cycles, maintenance, incident.
    – Mission planning with Airmap airspace information
    – Create Pre-flight documents: Custom checklists, Risk Assessment, Approvals…etc
    – Print your legal report: FAA, CAA, CASA, DGAC and more.
    – Mobile app for offline use: Android, iOS (smartphone and tablet).
    – Unlimited data storage available from Free plan.

    Information on our plans and main features, here: https://www.dronelogbook.com/subscriptions.php

    Fly Safe!
    DroneLogbook team

    • KA Photo – Seattle, WA & Vieques Island, PR – Over eight years of professional video production and digital marketing experience. Clients range from Japanese nature shows to Latin MTV, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, Coldwell Banker Previews International, and the City of Sacramento. Specialties: Commercial, corporate, broadcast, documentary multimedia production/directing, luxury & adventure travel & lifestyle, aerial, sub-aquatic, low light photography, city-wide events, online marketing and promotion, budgeting, scheduling, multi-step eMarketing campaigns.
      Karl Alexander says:

      Dronelogbook is working out to be my choice as a single-operator. The interface is easy and intuitive, importing logs is super simple compared to the other options. The mobile app is easy to use as well.
      Skyward seems like a more corporate version of dronelogbook. It has a lot of great looking professional features but is relatively cumbersome and time consuming for the single-operator setup.
      DLB is definitely worth checking out!

  • Colene says:

    Hurrah! Finally I got a blog from where I know how to truly obtain useful facts concerning my study and knowledge.|

  • Kevin says:

    Kittyhawk.io has made dramatic enhancements since this article was written. Simple to use, but packed with all the professional features you’d want. They’ll even have LAANC built in soon. Way more than just a logbook – this doesn’t do it justice! This page needs an update. 😀

Leave a ReplyCancel reply