Are you one of the more than 500,000 inactive pilots in the United States? Are you stranded on the ground wishing you were back in the air but don’t know where to start? Keep reading. We have some resources you should find helpful.
While the name has changed (from Biennial Flight Review), the regulation has not. FAR Part 61.56 (c) requires active pilots to complete a flight review with a CFI every 24 calendar months. Each pilot’s logbook must show that he or she has successfully completed that review. The Pilot’s Guide to the Flight Review and the AOPA Online Pilot Information Center subject report on the Flight Review will provide detailed information about what to expect during the flight review process. Keep in mind, this is not a check ride nor is there a written test involved. Schedule some time with a flight instructor. After reviewing some ground school, go for a flight. At that point your instructor should be able to give you an idea of what will be involved to get current again. Depending on how long it’s been since you have flown as Pilot In Command, they may be ready to sign you off right there or they may recommend some additional flight lessons.
The AOPA Rusty Pilots initiative is designed to help inactive pilots return to flying as quickly and safely as possible. Our motto is, “Once a Pilot, Always a Pilot.” Rusty Pilots offers fun, interactive courses that gives you all the information you need to get current again. Our dynamic presenters will bring you up to speed on hot-button issues like medical reform, weather briefings, preflight planning, FARs, and airspace. AOPA is currently offering two Rusty Pilots educational tracks. You can attend a Rusty Pilots webinar, take the self-paced, online course, or you can do both. By completing a Rusty Pilots webinar, you will earn a logbook endorsement attesting that you’ve completed two hours of ground training toward your Flight Review, as well as two FAA Wings credits. By completing the Rusty Pilots Online course, you will earn a course completion certificate that you can share with your flight instructor, as well as two FAA Wings credits. In either case, we will help you map out the next step in returning to flying.
The Rusty Pilots webinar and online course are FREE AOPA member benefits and can be taken / attended as often as you like at no charge. Non-members may join AOPA and enjoy all the other benefits of being a member in addition to being able to participate in either of the Rusty Pilots formats or, they may pay $79 each, to attend.
Not sure where to turn for help? AOPA has a flight school finder that will help you search for a flight school by inputting your state, zip code or school name. The site also denotes AOPA award winning schools from our Flight Training Experience Surveys.
Joining a flying club is a great next step for someone returning to flying. A flying club can provide the social aspect that helps you get back into flying and keep you flying. You are never alone when you are part of a flying club. There are always people to fly with, places to go, social activities, safety seminars, and other club activities. Not only that, the airplanes are typically less expensive to fly, and the availability is usually better than trying to rent from a school.
Fly more, pay less, have fun! Flying clubs are not only fun and economical, but they offer a variety of options to pilots looking for new experiences. And, other flying club members can be a tremendous resource for pilots returning to flying. Flying clubs are supportive and help pilots stay active and engaged.
The AOPA Flying Club Finder can help you connect with a flying club in your area. If you cannot find a suitable club nearby, consider starting a club.
Click here for more information on AOPA’s Flying Clubs.
From security concerns and airspace regulations to major advances in technology, much has changed in general aviation since 2000—but don’t let concern you. On the other hand, advancements in technology has made flying safer and easier. cases.
If it’s been more than three years since you’ve flown, you’re probably not familiar with BasicMed. BasicMed is the result of third-class medical reform. Almost 50,000 pilots are now flying under BasicMed.
By completing four simple steps, eligible pilots can fly under FAA's BasicMed rules. Review AOPA's BasicMed Pilot and Physician Guide (PDF 651 KB) and BasicMed FAQs (PDF 284 KB) to see if you're eligible to take advantage of BasicMed. If you held a regular or special-issuance medical anytime on or after July 15, 2006, you are likely eligible to fly under BasicMed.
See if you qualify to fly under BasicMed and check the aircraft you are able to fly under the new rule here.
If you decide to pursue the traditional medical certificate or if it’s been too long since you have held a valid medical certificate, you will need to complete a medical application online through the FAA’s MedExpress website before visiting an Aviation Medical Examiner. AOPA has a tremendous amount of resources to help you through this process including a review of your medical conditions and records before you visit the AME (for AOPA Pilot Protection Services members). AOPA members can locate an Aviation Medical Examiner by using the online AME searchable database.
In July 2008, the durations of both first and third class medical certificates were extended for pilots under age 40. Under the new regulation, third class medicals issued to pilots under age 40 became valid for a maximum of 60 months, up from 36 months. Additional changes can be reviewed online.
If you have questions concerning your medical, or the medical certification process, contact the Pilot Information Center at 800/USA-AOPA (800/872-2672) and speak to one of AOPA’s Medical Certification experts. A medical certificate may not be required if you plan to limit your privileges to that of a Sport Pilot Certificate.
All pilots had to upgrade to a plastic pilot certificate by March 31, 2010. Plastic certificates are deemed more counterfeit-resistant. All newly issued plastic certificates automatically include the English Proficient endorsement, which is required to comply with the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) rule that all member countries (that includes the U.S.) issue pilot certificates that state the pilot is English Proficient if that pilot plans to use the certificate outside of his or her home country.
AOPA has partnered with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to develop a nationwide Airport Watch Program that uses the more than 600,000 pilots as eyes and ears for observing and reporting suspicious activity. This helps general aviation keep our airports secure without needless and expensive security requirements. AOPA Airport Watch is supported by a centralized, government-provided toll-free hotline (866/GA-SECURE) and system for reporting and acting on information provided by general aviation pilots. The Airport Watch program includes warning signs for airports, informational literature, and a security training course for pilots and airport employees.
AOPA is constantly working both publicly and behind the scenes to keep the nation’s airspace open to general aviation. Most security-related (Temporary Flight Restrictions) TFRs are assumed to coincide with Presidential trips outside Washington, D.C. Pilots should know that TFRs cover military facilities, nuclear power plants, some theme parks and sporting events. While some of these restrictions have been in place for a long time, many will “pop up” with little prior notice.
It’s no longer enough to look at the chart, pick out the prohibited and restricted areas, and avoid them. Heightened airspace awareness during flight planning, accurate navigation, and precise pilotage is necessary to avoid potential airspace violations. AOPA has a TFR information page where you can view the FAA TFR map, which has real time TFR information. The AOPA Air Safety Institute has developed an online program to help you understand and navigate in today’s airspace. “Know Before You Go” is designed to help you understand how to navigate in changing airspace restrictions without incident.