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IMC Time Keeping

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Well-known member
Nov 29, 2001
What's the best way for us time builders to keep tack of actual IMC time? I usually remember to note the time on my way into the clouds but forget to note the time coming out the other end. What about all the little patches of VMC in between? Thanks.


PS: Did you know it rains alot up here?
Well I really couldn't answer your question, due to the fact that I'm not Instrument rated yet. Hopefully soon! By the way do you live in Seattle? So do I...and yes it does RAIN a lot...yuck!

IMC time

I used to do it with the Hobbs. I noted the Hobbs when I entered cloud and when I departed. Use a good, conservative, cumulative estimate for the patches in between.

You can also note the time in and out with your watch or clock and convert it into hours and tenths.

I can't think of any other way, really.
I just estimate it... you would have to be totally nuts to start and stop a time clock everytime you enter and exit a cloud. I fly a CRJ and we have too many other IMPORTANT things to do than keep exact track of IMC time. And the end of a trip, I look back and estimate. Usually .1 for departures, and .2 for arrivals or more depending if it was one of those short legs (CVG-DAY or SDF, IND or LEX) were we never get on top. I also give consideration to whether it was a visual or an ILS approach and adjust accordingly. A good rule of thumb LONG TERM is that your actual IMC should be more or less 10% of TT. If it is considerably larger, like 30%+ then someone has been padding their logbook.
Well, looking at the Hobbs or your watch would give you a pretty good idea of how long you were in the soup, but it isn't very practical at all!. Most planes that I have flown have put the Hobbs meter on the opposite side of where the pilot is sitting... don't know why?! But the last thing you want to be doing when you are entering or leaving the clouds, or on an approach low to the ground, is moving your head around to look at the Hobbs meter. Keep your eyes on your instruments, or else you run the risk of getting vertigo (no matter how experienced you might think you are).

The easiest and most practical way I have found, is to determine what percentage of the flight you were on the instruments during the flight and then log this percentage of the total flight as "instrument" time. Resist the urge to log 0.1 every time you punch through a cloud. If you do so, it could be considered falsification of pilot records. Yeah, it would be very difficult for anyone to find this out, but it says alot about your character.

Fly safe!
Thanks for the advise. The ink is still wet on my instrument ticket. As such, I'm trying to figure out best practices. This weekend was my first time going into IMC without a CFI holding my hand. I've also stepped up from a C172 to a "high performance aircraft". So I have my hands full just keeping the dirty side down and flying the approach. Not much time / brain space left over for time keeping. Please tell me it gets easier. Thanks again.

I don't want to sound like your mom, but be careful. If your going out by yourself for the first time or first couple of times set your minimums high. You don't want to be shooting an ILS down to mins. by yourself with the ink still wet. If you know another instrument rated person bring them along as a wing leveler.

I remember my first time in IMC on my own as a CFII with a student on board. Here in FL we don't get many low overcast days so I would always try to take advantage. I think I maybe had five total hours of actual time when this took place and having another set of eyes really helped. I still remember my first ILS to mins. as PIC, what a rush.
ILS to mins

It sure is a rush. I took students on an IFR x-c to the L.A. Basin in 1989. We were immersed in cloud. We shot an ILS to SNA and saw nothing until we were just about to DH. Then the rabbit and and ALS slowly came into view. Just like it was supposed to.

Awesome! :D

I absolutely agree. The very first time was on Friday. Another pilot and I went to shoot some VOR approaches in actual. We were breaking out fairly close to mins (within a couple hundred feet of MDA). Additionally, my NAV unit seemed to be acting-up (ATC said we were consistantly 10 degrees off course). At least I was being consistant. I called it quits and and got RV's to VMC.

On Sunday, with the NAV issue fixed, I went back out. This time no other pilot with me. However, I was only IMC enroute - ceilings were at 5000 feet. It was much easier to stay ahead of the airplane while not trying to execute an approach.

For those of you that didn't go the military route, how did you first get comfortable in actual IMC in a complex airplane?

You know it's funny. I have a whole new appreciation for you guys/gals flying part 135 single pilot IFR at night.

When I was an instructor, I used to take non-soloed student pilots to the local big airport, and have them fly an ASR approach to minimums. It was a great teaching tool, which gave them confidence if they ever got in over their heads, and I think I got them to want an instrument rating sooner! I even had one guy say I saved his life with this training, even though he shouldn't have been there in the first place!

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