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Can I get credit for previous training?

Posted by on October 5, 2008 1 Comments Category : Flight Instructor Blog

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!

1 Comment

  1. Ron Amundson on Jan 16, 2009

    A couple things, having an experienced a student with a multiple decade gap… skills come back fast, really fast. Granted, he had a commercial certificate, and talked about his CFI insisting on spins to a heading…. but it only took about 10 hours before he was at the PTS level for a private, and in 20 he was close to being able to pass the commercial PTS. Thus, its worth trying to rebuild the log books.

    To contact prior instructors, he can use the FAA airman registry. Once he gets in contact, most CFI’s keep records forever, granted it might take a steak dinner or two to have the old CFI rebuild the logs, but I don’t know a CFI who would not be thrilled to help out an ex-student (well maybe the young airline focused types, but even then I doubt it… things change with age). Sure, the solo time would be non-existant, other than records of XC signoffs and such, but doing so would fast track a student getting back into things.

    However, ground wise, it was pretty much like starting from the beginning, in part do to the long period of time and forgetting things, but just as you stated, a bigger part is the huge regulatory changes over the years.

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