Rusty Pilots

Rusty Pilots

Bringing lapsed pilots back to the sky

As we seek to grow the pilot population, there’s a fair degree of discussion about how our industry can bring new pilots into aviation. This is perfectly appropriate, as we will always need a good supply of new blood to replace those who leave flying.

But there’s an adage in business that it’s much easier to keep a customer you’ve already got, than it is to acquire a new one. This is especially true in aviation where the barrier to entry is high, and only one in five students complete pilot training.

Once a pilot has been created, we want him or her to enjoy as long an aviation lifespan as possible. But this is not something we can take for granted. Qualified pilots drop out of active flying all the time. How many times have you met an old acquaintance and cheerfully asked, “are you still flying?” only for them to stare at their shoes and mumble something about needing to get current again.

We did some basic database analysis last year and discovered more than 500,000 lapsed pilots in the United States under the age of 75. That’s an awful lot of customers we have allowed to slip out the backdoor. This got us wondering about our chances of reactivating these people.

Obviously, some pilots will never return to the sky, but if even a small proportion of 500,000 came back, it would aid our quest to grow the pilot population.

So earlier this year AOPA commissioned a national survey of several hundred lapsed pilots. We learned a lot about why people leave aviation, and our prospects for bringing them back. One piece of information really jumped out: Not a single person had completely given up on flying. More than half of those surveyed fully expects to return to aviation, the rest think they might come back, but absolutely no one said, it’s over, I’m done.

Are you a Rusty Pilot looking to get back into the cockpit? Find an event near you!

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Are you a flight school or flying club that would like to present a Rusty Pilots program?

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Frequently Asked Questions

Who is a Rusty Pilot?
What is the benefit of attending a Rusty Pilots presentation?
Is Rusty Pilots a Pass/Fail test?
Is there a Rusty Pilots Presentation near me?
There are no local Rusty Pilot program near me, what should I do?
How much will participating in Rusty Pilots cost me?
Can I bring my spouse or friend along to the Rusty Pilots seminar?
Do Rusty Pilots need to review any material prior to the seminar?
I can’t find my logbook; can I still receive my Flight Review endorsement?
What is covered in the Rusty Pilots seminar?