Just got a question from Kerry who asks:
I have a renewed interest in getting my private certificate. I did have over 40 hrs of flight time albeit 20 years ago. The school I received instruction from is no longer in business and I have no personal contact with the instructors I flew with. I believe I have retained much of the knowledge learned, even so long ago. Is there some way to demonstrate proficiency and knowledge to receive credit for this past experience?
Great question Terry and I’m sure one that many people, who have taken a break from flight training, have asked before.
Here’s the good news: flight time has no expiration date. That means the time you had towards your training then will still count towards your training now. As far as the FAA is concerned, there is no limitation on the flight training you have previously received and it can be counted as credit towards the required number of hours (40).
Here’s the bad news: Proficiency comes with a natural expiration and your current flight instructor has to be comfortable signing the required endorsements and pilot applications, regardless of your previous training. When it comes right down to it, you could have met and exceeded the required number of hours ten fold, but until your instructor feels that you are safe, proficient and competent he has no legal obligation to endorse you.
One other note, a lot of things have changed! In the past twenty years, there have been dramatic changes in the country’s airspace structure and weather reporting formats (among many many other changes). Basically, in some small ways, you are going to have to start from scratch anyhow.
I know it might be frustrating to have to start completely over but the human mind has an amazing ability to retain information. The trouble is recalling that retained information when it is useful and practical. You might think you remember a lot from before, but the true test will be when you start having to recall those previously learned muscle memories in flight.
Just pick a good instructor, be patient and trust his judgement. He’ll solo you when you’re ready and he’ll sign you off for your practical test when you are ready; not a moment too soon or too late.
I hope this helps and as always…
Fly (and train) Safe!