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Rusty Pilots Initiative

Been Out of the Cockpit For a while? Here's How to Get Back In!

Think you've lost too much and forgotten everything? Afraid it'll be like starting over? No worries, Rusty Pilots will get you back in the left seat fast!

Getting Back To Flying: Easier Than You Think

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 has helped over 9,000 inactive pilots return to flying. If 9,000+ 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.

No Checkride Required. You Can Do This. 

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.

Rusty Pilots Will Get You Started

We have created a fun, interactive initiative 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. We currently offer three Rusty Pilots learning tracks. You can attend an in-person Rusty Pilots seminar, a live, Rusty Pilots webinar, or you can take the self-paced, online course. You can also participate in any combination of these tracks or you can complete all three. By completing any of the three tracks, you will earn FAA Wings credits* and depending on which track(s) you complete, you will either receive an endorsement for your logbook or a certificate of completion which you can share with your CFI. All three Rusty Pilots tracks are FREE for AOPA members.

* Prior to attending a safety seminar, please review and abide by current CDC, State, and Local health guidelines.

Meet Our Instructors

Resource Guide

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!

How do I get current after an extended break from flying?

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.

Find a local Aviation Medical Examiner here, but be sure to contact us with any questions about your medical history or conditions before you go for your exam.  

How much instruction will I need to get current?

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.

Do I have to take any more tests

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.

What topics are covered in Rusty Pilots?

The presentation 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 we’ll supply course materials so you can review what you’ve learned.

What do I have to do after attending Rusty Pilots to get current?

Rusty Pilots gives you two - three hours of ground instruction (depending on which track you take), but you’ll also need at least one hour of flight training to complete the required Flight Review. Participation in Rusty Pilots satisfies the minimum requirement for ground instruction, and you will receive either an endorsement for your logbook or a completion certificate to share with your flight instructor 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.

How do I find a Rusty Pilots Seminar or Webinar?

Most seminars are held at local flight schools or flying clubs! Webinars are held online, quarterly. Simply go to the seminar / webinar calendar and search, or email [email protected].

What do I do if there is no seminar near me?

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. Attend one of our quarterly webinars. The Rusty Pilots webinar will also cover the major elements of a flight review. You have an opportunity to send in questions and the Rusty Pilots team will share lots of resources with you to help on your journey to getting current. Webinar schedule.

3. You can also attend a Rusty Pilots seminar at major aviation events like Sun ‘n Fun or AirVenture. You will find these on the seminar / webinar calendar as well.

Can a friend or spouse attend with me?

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 and to be sure everyone gets the proper credit.

What should I do to prepare?

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 (or log on) and enjoy.

What materials do I need?

You'll receive a Resource Guide and Scenario Handout upon checking-in at the seminar (or attached to the reminder email if attending the webinar) to help you follow along with the presentation. It's a good idea to have a pen or pencil in case you want to jot down some notes, but that's really all you'll need!

How much does Rusty Pilots cost?

Zip. Zero. Nada. Rusty Pilots seminars, webinars and the online course 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 participate in any or all of the Rusty Pilots tracks for free! For more information about becoming an AOPA member, click here.

WHERE CAN I FIND GREAT LEARNING RESOURCES TO HELP ME PREPARE FOR MY FLIGHT REVIEW?

Check out the list of free courses and materials specifically selected for Rusty Pilots in ASI's Rusty Pilots Safety Center.