Say “No” to Self-Auditing Your Logbook

Why you should NEVER self-audit your logbook? Because your brain doesn’t see what’s there. It sees what it expects.

You have finished reviewing your logbook, spent many hours tracking down and scrubbing mistakes. After 3 loops around the track, you think you’ve found them all. Brimming with confidence that your logbook is error-free, you have it printed. Phew, another big item off your pre-interview checklist. 

Your printed logbook looks amazing. So professional. You can almost see Chief Pilot’s smile when you present it. You smile too and begin flipping pages, admiring your work. Then… uh oh. Something isn’t right. WTH? Your heart skips a beat then sinks. In printed form, you see mistakes you somehow missed. Way back on p.9. That SIC time on 10/5/13 should be PIC…and that cross-country time on 10/3/2015–yikes. “Impossible. I went through these logs 3 times! How could I have missed these? Even worse, the errors affect running totals on page bottoms. All 295 pages must be reprinted. Not only is this expensive, but it’s only 4 days before your interview. Your heart races and blood pressure surges. “How to fix this in time?” A careful and once confident pilot descends into panic-ville. Yes, it is fixable, but it will take effort and some tricky logistics to pull it off — not to mention another hit to your VISA card. 

The good news? You are neither stupid nor careless. Your brain is simply operating as it should, smartly and efficiently.  Dr. Tom Stafford (Univ. of Sheffield, UK), says “When we’re proof-reading our own work, we know the meaning we want to convey. Because we expect that meaning to be there, it’s easier to miss when parts (or all) of it are absent.” While he’s referring to standard proofreading, it still applies.  “The reason we don’t see our own [mistakes] is because what we see on the screen is competing with the version that exists in our heads. We don’t catch every detail…we take in information and combine it with what we expect….” This explains why others see errors that we don’t. “We can become blind to details because our brain is operating on instinct. By the time you proof-read your own work, your brain already knows the destination” so it skips over what it already expected to see. By that third loop around the track, your mind has decided it’s all good and stops seeing mistakes. (See Why It’s So Hard to Catch Your Own Typos; Wired Magazine 2014).

As a professional pilot, you would never go wheels-up without a walkaround and thorough cockpit check. The same goes for the interviews. Preparation is everything. I wrote this blog after receiving many panicked calls about logbook reprints. When this happens, we scramble to help these desperate pilots, and are proud to have pulled quite a few “Hail Mary’s”. The morale of the story is never rely on self-auditing. If you have a few weeks or more, hire a logbook auditing firm. Then have your reports professionally printed and purchase a high quality logbook binder. You will walk into your interview confident and relaxed, assured that your logbook is in good order. However, if you’ve waited until the very last minute and it’s too late, make your presentation package as sharp as you can, cross your fingers and hope for a quick and superficial logbook review. (See our blogs on interviewing: “Best Practices to Impress the Chief Pilot” and “The One-Minute Logbook Review”).

For information on paper-to-digital transcription and logbook auditing, we suggest you contact our partner AcuLog Conversion. ProSoft Binders can coordinate with AcuLog to ensure timely completion of logbook auditing and printing.