We often hear about pilots with 10 or even 20 thousands hours. So I was wondering how much higher this number can go. Do we know which pilot has the most logged time? Is there any official number?

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    $\begingroup$ Most airline pilots I know have about 25,000 hours when they retire. I have been flying for 43 years and currently have just over 23,000 hours. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 21:31

2 Answers 2


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia John Edward "Ed" Long, Jr

John Edward "Ed" Long, Jr. (1915–July 18, 1999) was an American pilot who is in the Guinness Book of Records for the most flight time by a pilot: over 65,000 hours (more than seven years and four months) at the time of his death.

He began in 1933 at the age of 17, when he took his first and only flying lesson. In September 1989, he broke the previous record, 52,929 hours, set by Max Conrad in 1974. According to his brother, Ed Long's job involved checking power lines, so "most of that was under 200 feet, in a Piper Cub".He died in 1999 at the age of 83.*

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    $\begingroup$ This brings up the fact that it is really hard to compare what "hour" means. Some pilots, like this one, spend every minute with their hand on the stick, while a commercial pilot on an overseas flight even goes to sleep (and, on the other hand, probably spends more time preparing the flight). $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 23, 2017 at 13:17
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    $\begingroup$ That is a good point. Some pilots, airlines, and jurisdictions, may not log flight time while on a break, while others do. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 23, 2017 at 14:35
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    $\begingroup$ Aerial Patrol sounds about right for setting this record. I flew with a guy that has flown aerial patrol part time for the last 25 years and has averaged over 1000 hrs per year. $\endgroup$
    – J W
    Commented Jun 23, 2017 at 17:39
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    $\begingroup$ +1. Adding some dose of irony... In addition of being in the same book than Most-Socks-Put-On-A-Foot-in-One-Minute (Silvio Sabba from Italy) and The-Fastest-Ice-Cream-Scooper (Mitch Cohen, from Flushing, Queens), J. Long is also honored by the Smithsonian museum of Washington which emphasizes that "most of those hours were hand-flown, single-pilot, stick-and-rudder hours flown at about 100 feet above the ground." Not exactly the same than flying a 2017 aircraft. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 20:33

The question is looking for an "official" record.

The answer is NO. Nobody tracks this for all pilots.

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    $\begingroup$ Do you not accept the Guinness World Records as "Official"? They list John Edward "Ed" Long, Jr. as the record holder with 65,000 hours at the time of his death. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 3, 2019 at 22:58
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    $\begingroup$ Mike, no record should be considered 'official' unless it is independently verifiable. Since pilots are not required to report their flight times to anyone, we are left with accepting what the pilot says it is. It may sell some books for Guinness... and it may be very entertaining reading... but since there is no verifiable source data, I don't consider the result 'official'. But maybe that is just me... $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 15, 2019 at 21:50

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