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Knocking off the rustKnocking off the rust

When Jamie Crandall decided to attend AOPA’s very first Rusty Pilots seminar in 2014, he wasn’t expecting much. In fact, he figured “just two or three old guys like me” would be at the event. Because the San Marcos, Texas, location wasn’t far from his home, he decided to give it a try. When he arrived, he was stunned to discover at least 100 lapsed pilots of all ages who wanted to get back into the air.

Pilot Jamie Crandall with his 1969 Beechcraft Bonanza in Navasota, Texas, on December 12, 2016. Photo courtesy of Robert Seale.

Like many rusty pilots, Crandall had been sidelined by the complicated process of getting his medical back after a bout with cancer. But, also like fellow rusty pilots, he missed flying and hoped to get back to it one day. The Rusty Pilots seminar turned out to be just what he needed. After 15 years away, he participated in the three-hour seminar, bought a hangar, “and then I bought a little airplane to go in it.” The Cessna 150 was, he thought, a good way to get current and decide if he really wanted to fly again. He did, and he soon bought a Beech E33 Bonanza.

Now back to regular flying, Crandall wanted to share his excitement. He made an offer to two “kids” in their 30s. If they would pay for gas, he would pay for the airplane, insurance, and instruction, and they could learn to fly. A few months ago, the first of those “kids” earned his private pilot certificate.

Since returning to the sky, Crandall has logged 150 hours and discovered a whole new kind of pleasure. Where he and his wife once flew a Piper Seneca almost exclusively to support their business, they now hop into the 150 and go flying—just for fun. “I never had a weekend airplane, to go out and fly on the weekend just for heck of it,” he said. “We’ve really enjoyed doing that.”

Crandall, who is now 72 and has had a pilot certificate for more than half his life, has a little advice for folks who are thinking about getting back in the air after a break. “I would advise anybody to go do it. I think it’s good for them. It stimulates your mental faculties,” he said.

Now is a great time to join Crandall and the more than 2,500 other pilots who have returned to active flying status after attending an AOPA Rusty Pilots seminar. With medical reform becoming a reality, thousands of pilots who put their flying on hold are expected to return to the air. To accommodate them, and any lapsed pilot who wants to fly again, AOPA is doubling the number of Rusty Pilots seminars offered nationwide—holding as many as 300 at flight schools, flying clubs, and aviation events throughout the new year.

Seminar participants receive a signoff for three hours of ground instruction in the subjects required for the flight review. And, as always, it’s free to AOPA members.

If your flight school or flying club would like to host a Rusty Pilots seminar, you can sign up online. AOPA will provide a presenter, marketing support, and all the needed materials at no charge to you.

Julie Walker

Julie Summers Walker

AOPA Senior Features Editor
AOPA Senior Features Editor Julie Summers Walker joined AOPA in 1998. She is a student pilot still working toward her solo.
Topics: You Can Fly, Pilot Training and Certification, Flight Review

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