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Can I log PIC when George, or the Colonel, is flying?
I get this question a time or two a year. It's a question most pilots never think about, or probably never think about asking.

I am solo in my airplane, cruising at 8,000 feet, and I have the autopilot engaged. Colloquially known as 'George', or, having spent many years flying a Chieftain equipped with a KFC-200 (the Colonel, get it?), do I get to log the PIC time when the autopilot is flying?

It's a good question that normally stems from the section in 61.51(e)(1) that reads "...sole manipulator of the controls of an aircraft for which the pilot is rated" as a condition of logging PIC time. While true that the pilot is not actually hand-on, we could likely get into a long discussion of who is actually manipulating the flight controls when the autopilot is flying. Ultimately, the pilot is, of course, and is entitled to full credit as PIC.

Discussions welcome.
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1217 Posts
We could get into a discussion of what we think about this, but as far as the law is concerned, the FAA Chief Counsel agrees with Daddis that the person pushing the autopilot's buttons is considered the sole manipulator and, if rated in the aircraft, can log it as PIC time.