There is some definite confusion of what PIC (Pilot In Command) is, who is PIC, when one logs PIC, why the PIC can’t log PIC in some situations, and why someone who can’t act as PIC can log PIC. So let’s see if we can break it down and try to grasp that elusive concept of Acting PIC vs logging PIC. PIC by the simplest definition is just that - the pilot in command. 14CFR1.1 defines it as such: Pilot in command means the person who: (1) Has final authority and responsibility for the operation and safety of the flight; (2) Has been designated as pilot in command before or during the flight; and (3) Holds the appropriate category, class, and type rating, if appropriate, for the conduct of the flight. Simple enough, correct? So what is the confusion on PIC? The confusion comes in the form of 14CFR61.51(e): Logging pilot-in-command time. The tendency is for people to think that acting as pilot in command is the same as logging pilot in command time. It isn’t – and that’s where the problem and confusion comes in. These are two separate concepts, but we have two separate definitions for the same term. We have a lot of these sorts of terms in the English language and when it’s a single word we call them homonyms. Like the word “bear.” Is it a noun? Is it a verb? Well the answer is yes to both questions depending on the context. No one is going to think that when I say, “a tree bears fruit,” that the tree has bears in it. Pears maybe, but probably not bears. We have the same thing with PIC. Are we talking logging PIC, or are we talking acting PIC? If we can clear that up, everything becomes much simpler. This is aviation and we have acronyms for everything, so maybe we should just add two more to try and eliminate the confusion. So for the rest of this writing I will use the following terms to maybe help clarify things: APIC – Acting Pilot in Command LPIC – Logging Pilot in Command Now that we’ve broken them into two separate terms, distinguishing the difference should be easier. When can I be APIC? When you meet the qualifications to do so, of course. I’m going to write this under assumption that we are talking about private and student pilots in airplanes under part 91, and not the extra allowances that come with being an ATP, flying Part 121, 125, 135, or the limitations of being a sport or recreational pilot, or in gliders, balloons, or airships. When you can be APIC is simple enough and this can be found in 14CFR61.56 and 61.57 If you are flying alone and VFR: You need a current medical You need to be rated in the aircraft (or signed off for solo flight in training for that rating) You need to be within your flight review period You need any endorsements required for that aircraft (high altitude, complex, high performance)If you take passengers you need all the above plus: Daytime: 3 takeoffs and landings within 90 days – day or night Nighttime: 3 takeoffs and landings within 90 days at night to a full stop In a tailwheel: 3 takeoffs and landings within 90 days in a tailwheel to a full stop If you fly IFR: You need the 4 listed above under VFR and to be IFR current. That’s it, meet those requirements and for the purposes of the FAA you can be APIC. There’s nothing in there about sitting in the left seat or right seat, whether you have to wear a green shirt, a leather belt, or an ANR headset. That’s all there is to being APIC under Part 91. But my insurance says...That's between you and your insurance company, not you and the FAA. So when I’m APIC I can always be LPIC? Not always. And that’s what leads to confusion. When can I LPIC? That’s all covered in 14CFR61.51(e)(1) and its very, very simple. You can LPIC when: You are the sole manipulator of the controls of an aircraft for which you are rated. When you are alone in the aircraft When you are the APIC (and meet all the requirements I previously mentioned) and more than one pilot is required (most commonly as a safety pilot) That’s it. No endorsements required, no medical required (unless you are a safety pilot – and that’s another discussion), no takeoffs and landings within 90 days, no green shirt, leather belt, or ANR headset. Doesn’t matter if you are IFR, VFR, nighttime, daytime, etc… There’s even a flowchart to help let you know when you can LPIC: http://www.sidnaw.org/LoggingPIC.pdf You said there are times I can be APIC but I can’t LPIC. How so? Imagine this scenario: You meet all the requirements of being APIC and you take your pilot buddy up in your Archer. Your buddy does not have a current medical but he is rated Airplane Single Engine Land. He flies the plane, does all the take offs landings, everything. You never touch the controls. You are APIC, but you were not the sole manipulator of the controls, you were not alone in the aircraft, and more than one pilot was not required. You can’t LPIC in this scenario. The same thing would apply if you have a tailwheel, and your buddy doesn’t have a tailwheel endorsement, or a Comanche and your buddy doesn’t have a complex or high performance endorsement, or if flying IFR and your buddy isn’t IFR rated or current. You can be APIC but you can’t LPIC. Think of a Venn diagram with one circle as LPIC and the other APIC, there are times where you act but cant log, log but can’t act, and times when you can act and log. Does that clear things up? Yes, Nick I know that if you are on a checkride you aren't rated in the plane yet, you aren't alone, and you can log PIC.