So, some jerk broke into your car and along with the other stuff he took, walked away with your logbook. Fortunately, the FAA gives us some guidance on what to do.
Before getting to the guidance, though, the FAA gives you a potential baseline. Assuming you already have a certificate or rating that required you to prepare an 8710-1, there is an official record of your time until then and that you have met the training and requirements for that certificate or rating. The 8710-1 itself tells us:
RECORD OF PILOT TIME. The minimum pilot experience required by the appropriate regulation must be entered. It is recommended, however, that ALL pilot time be entered.
So, even though you don’t have to, it’s usually a good idea to put complete up-to-date totals in those flight time boxes, whether or not the box is required for the application.
Now to the guidance the FAA gives us… They are both from FAA Order 8900.1 – Flight Standards Information Management Systems (FSIMS).
The first is from Volume 5 (Airmen Certification), Chapter 1, Paragraph 5-172 (part of what used to be called the Air Transportation Operations Inspector’s Handbook.:
5-172. LOST LOGBOOKS OR FLIGHT RECORDS. Inspectors should advise airmen that they may reconstruct lost logbooks or flight records by providing a signed statement of previous flight time.
A. Proof of Experience. Airmen may use the following items to substantiate flight time and experience:
• Aircraft logbooks
• Receipts for aircraft rentals
• Operator records
• Copies of airman medical files
• Copies of FAA Form 8710-1, “Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application”
B. Obtaining File Copies. Airmen who have lost their logbooks or flight records may request copies of their files from the FAA by writing to the following: FAA Airmen Certification Branch, AVN-460 P.O. Box 25082 Oklahoma City, OK 73125 FAA, Aeromedical Certification Branch P.O. Box 25082 Oklahoma City, OK 73125
NOTE: Inspectors should encourage pilots to complete the flight time sections of official record forms, even though it would not be required for that specific certificate. These records document a chronological development of flight time in case personal records become lost.
The second is in Volume 5 (Airman Certification), Chapter 2, Paragraph 5-321 tells us:
5-321. LOST LOGBOOKS OR FLIGHT RECORDS. Aeronautical experience requirements must be shown for a person to be eligible for the issuance or to exercise the privileges of a pilot certificate. A pilot who has lost logbooks or flight time records should be reminded that any fraudulent or intentional false statements concerning aeronautical experience are a basis for suspension or revocation of any certificate or rating held. The pilot who has this problem may, at the discretion of the ASI accepting the application for a pilot certificate or rating, use a signed and notarized statement of previous flight time as the basis for starting a new flight time record. Such a statement should be substantiated by all available evidence, such as aircraft logbooks, receipts for aircraft rentals, and statements of flight operators.
I think you need to read both of those references together to get the full picture. I don’t think that the list under “Proof of Experience” in the second reference is exclusive, but that they are examples of the types of records that could be used to substantiate the notarized statement of flight time that the first reference talks about. To the list, I would add personal calendars, at least for the dates and events (like the day you received your complex endorsement), if not the hours. This is also where photocopies of logbook pages and electronic logbooks, personal or online, would be a great help.
Two final thoughts: If you are going to use personal records as a backup, the records used to reconstruct the logbook should be kept in a safe place. And, it’s not stated, but since a primary use of the reconstructed logbook will be to verify the information in an 8710-1, it would be a good idea to review what you did with the DPE who will be performing the practical test or with a local FSDO inspector.