Aircraft Records: Reading between the lines

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Caveat Emptor—Buyer Beware—is a great rule of thumb when acquiring a used car, truck, snowmobile, boat or previously owned husband or wife.

It’s a harsh reality, but you need to remember that the beautiful new toy you are coveting is the very same toy that the previous owner could not wait to get rid of. People generally do not disassociate themselves with perfectly good possessions or mates. And when they do, there’s generally no logbook you can refer to that will disclose why the previous owner fell out of love with their prized possession or spouse.

To connect this lame metaphor to the subject at hand––buying a pre-owned Cessna airplane—what about that sweet-looking 172 or 310 giving you that come-hither stare from across the ramp… the one that the present owner insists has “excellent logbooks”?

An examination of those logbooks is going to tell you everything you need to know about the machine, isn’t it? I mean, they shoot people that monkey around with logbooks, don’t they?

Well, actually they don’t. In fact, in many cases, there isn’t even an “ahem” from the FAA. “There’s no language anywhere in the regulations that requires entries in ‘logbooks;’ the regs just require that maintenance records be kept,” said Steve Ells, Cessna Flyer contributing editor and longtime A&P.

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