If you're like more than 500,000 other pilots (that's right, half a million), you've taken a little breather from flying. Maybe more than a little. Perhaps life threw you a curve. Maybe the pitter-patter of little feet, a growing business, or a medical setback had something to do with it. Whatever the case, things are different now. You're back in the game and would like to start flying again. You've come to the right place.
The AOPA Rusty Pilots program recently celebrated the 5000th inactive pilot to attend a Rusty Pilots seminar and return to active flying again! If 5,000 other people with similar stories can do this, you can too! Yes, it will take some time, work and money but if you take one step at a time, you too can return to flying.
You may have forgotten that pilot certificates never expire. Once a pilot, always a pilot. You never have to take another test or worry about another checkride. All you need is a Flight Review (formerly known as a Biennial Flight Review). That's it. A little brush-up with your local CFI, enough flights to demonstrate competence again (minimum one hour), and – presto! – you're back in the air. Seriously, that's all it takes.
AOPA has put together a fun, interactive program 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 reforms, weather briefings, preflight planning, FARs, and airspace. You’ll leave the seminar with a logbook endorsement attesting that you've completed three hours of ground training toward your Flight Review. And we’ll help you connect with flight instructors in your area so you can take the next step and quickly get back to active flying status. Best of all, Rusty Pilots seminars are FREE for AOPA members.
Click here to download a copy of the Rusty Pilots Resource Guide. It's a convenient cockpit and study reference especially designed to help rusty pilots get ready for the left seat!
Tens of thousands of pilots have qualified to fly under the FAA's BasicMed program. All you need to get legal and current is a medical certificate or BasicMed (if eligible) and a Flight Review (formerly known as Biennial Flight Review). The regulations require that the Flight Review consist of at least one hour of ground instruction and one hour of flight time. Depending on how much rust you've accumulated, you may need more.
It depends on how long you've been away from flying and how experienced you were when you stopped. Generally, the longer it's been since you flew the more instruction you'll need to get current, but not always. Your CFI may be able to give you at least a rough idea after your first ground and flight sessions.
No! There are no written exams or checkrides required—you just need to complete a Flight Review. A logbook endorsement from your CFI is all you need.
The seminar is designed to bring you up to date on regulatory and procedural changes that may have taken place during your time away from flying, as well as provide a refresher on medical requirements, cross country planning and weather (METARs and TAFs), pilot responsibilities, runway incursion avoidance, radio procedures, airspace and much more. The material is presented in a fun, interactive way, and you’ll get course materials to take home so you can review what you’ve learned.
The seminar gives you three hours of ground instruction, but you’ll also need at least one hour of flight training to complete the required Flight Review. Participation in the seminar satisfies the minimum requirement for ground instruction, and you will receive a sticker at the seminar that you can place into your logbook as evidence that you have received this training. Ultimately, it will be up to your flight instructor to decide how much flight and ground instruction you need to be ready to act as pilot in command.
If there is not a seminar in your area, you have several options:
1. Check out AOPA Rusty Pilots Online, a fun, interactive refresher program giving you the information you need to get ready to return to flying as pilot in command. Covering the major elements of a flight review, the course will bring you up to speed on radio communications, weather briefings, and preflight planning, while highlighting what’s changed—from medical certification and regulations to airspace and more—since you last flew.
2. Try asking a flight school or flying club in your area if they would be interested in hosting a seminar. Remind them that AOPA will provide the presenter, the materials, and plenty of support for free, and that hosting a Rusty Pilots seminar can bring in new customers. For more information, they can go to rustypilots.org.
3. You can also attend a Rusty Pilots seminar at any AOPA Fly-In. Or join us at other major aviation events like Sun ‘n Fun or AirVenture, where we offer Rusty Pilots seminars.
Of course! The more the merrier. Just be sure to register everybody in advance to ensure that there are enough supplies and materials to go around.
If you have time, do a little boning up on the Flight Review in advance of the class so you're a step ahead. Thumb through some of your old books and charts to re-familiarize yourself with the topics that will be discussed. Don't have time to do any homework in advance? No problem. The topics will be covered during the session, so just come and enjoy.
You'll receive a Resource Guide and Scenario Handout upon checking-in at the seminar to help you follow along with the presentation. It's a good idea to bring a pen or pencil in case you want to jot down some notes, but that's really all you'll need!
Zip. Zero. Nada. Rusty Pilots seminars are 100% free for AOPA members. It's just one more great benefit to being an AOPA member. Not a member? No worries! You can join AOPA and attend the seminar for free! For more information about becoming an AOPA member, click here. The seminar fee is $79 if you choose not to join AOPA.
Check out the list of free courses and materials specifically selected for Rusty Pilots in ASI's Rusty Pilots Safety Spotlight.