One of the responsibilities of a general aviation maintenance technician is to properly notate any maintenance performed on an aircraft. Federal Aviation Regulation 43.9 mandates a maintenance record entry that contains the following information: a description of the work performed; the date the work was performed; the name of the person performing the work; the signature, certificate number and type of certificate of that person.

The maintenance entry is normally made in a "LOGBOOK" and is kept with the aircraft, an engine or a propeller for the life of the item.

Reading a logbook can be a very boring exercise so I have chosen to read the entries as I would read a novel.

An actual entry from the beginning of an aircraft logbook reads: I have inspected this aircraft and issued a standard airworthiness certificate dated Dec 23, 1982 I/A/W FAR 21.183(a) Per 21.273 FAA DOA SO-1. I choose to interpret this as: A new baby aircraft has been born and is ready to take to the air.

As the aircraft is flown, the logbooks reflect its life. Early on, there are few entries except for required inspections. Soon a brake has to be replaced, a gyro is overhauled, the landing gear oleo strut has to be resealed......... The baby airplane is going through growing pains just as a child that learns to walk, falls, gets the scrape treated and keeps on going.

I have to wonder what was the circumstance when the gyro went bad. Was the pilot surprised that he was flying off course because he was following a precessing gyro or did it fail while making an IFR approach on the localizer? The pilot at the time let the general aviation maintenance technician know what the problem was, but that reason has been lost over the years. The important thing is, the pilot and aircraft were able to use alternate equipment to complete the mission.

Log entries take many forms. (penmanship was not part of our training in general aviation maintenance school) Who wrote in black ink, blue ink, red ink, green ink, pencil? (black is the preferred color in ink, not pencil) Many entries have been made up-side-down in the book. The maxim: "the job is not done until the paperwork is done" is true but there are few general aviation maintenance technicians that like to do paperwork. Our specialty is electrical systems, hydraulics, sheet metal repairs, vacuum pumps, fuel hoses, windows, deicers, exhaust valves, propeller blades, tires, upholstery, air conditioners, landing gear, lift struts, fiberglass, painting, grease, control cables, trim tabs and the such.

Aircraft records are very valuable. When an aircraft is sold, one of the primary questions will be "Are all of the logbooks present?" The logbooks can represent up to 1/3 of the value of an aircraft. Another question will be: "is there any damage history?" I feel that damage history is important but is not a reason to reduce the price of the aircraft if the repairs have been made properly. The price calculation of a used aircraft factors in each of these items (and many more) to allow the seller and buyer to negotiate a price that is acceptable to each.

Many of the aircraft the general aviation maintenance technician maintains is over thirty years old and the novel of the logbooks is still being written.