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2 Answers

Getting back into flying

Asked by: 5108 views Private Pilot

In college, I obtained my private pilots license and flew for several years after that, but with the addition of children, I quit flying for all the obvious reasons. Besides a flight physical, what do I need to do to get back into flying? I have about 400 hours logged in six different aircraft.

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2 Answers



  1. Paul Tocknell on Oct 15, 2010

    That’s the nice thing about flying, your certificate technically never expires! (§61.19) You worked hard for it, it’s yours for life.

    The FAA regulations say that in order to act as PIC of an airplane you need to do three things

    1) Get a fresh FAA medical (§61.23)

    As a private pilot, you will need at least a third class medical. You can find a list of AME (aviation medical examiners) from links on the FAA homepage and AOPA I believe keeps a list as well. You can also call out to your local FBO or flight school and see if they have a list of local AMEs.

    2) Get current (§61.56)

    The FAA says that every 24 months you need to complete a flight review (§61.56); sometimes referred to as a BFR (biannual flight review). Every 24 calendar months you need a fresh BFR. A BFR consists of at least 1 hour of flying and 1 hour of ground but prepared for more since you’ve been out of the game for a little bit. Your instructor will make sure to cover any changes in regulations and get you up to speed on all the latest in greatest in aviation.

    3) Get recent (§61.57)

    Part of your BFR will include takeoff and landings. Hopefully at least 3 (again probably more) to satisfy the requirements of §61.57 “Recent Flight Experience”. If you want to fly at night, these will need to be done at night to a full stop (vs a touch and go).

    That’s really about it. You might want to pick up a current sectional or AFB to review changes in your local airspace and familiarize yourself with your local airspace.

    Welcome back! Have fun!

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  2. Jim McEwen on Oct 24, 2010

    Mr. Tocknell’s answer is technically correct; but as somebody who started flying again last November after laying off for 40 years, let me say it aint necessarily so.  You don’t say how long you’ve been out of commision, but a ballpark number is about 1 hour of instruction/ flight time per year off to get your proficency back.  The AOPA has some pages you probably have already looked at:  http://www.aopa.org/members/files/guides/getback.html
    In my case I had about 250 hours from the 60’s, all taildragger in uncontrolled airspace, had never landed at a controlled airport and let me tell you, my first training session out of KCRO (McClellan-Palomar) was really interesting.  Talk about task overload!
    I suggest you look at the current Private requirements, such as night flight and instrument maneuvers as well as all the usual turns about a point, slow flight and unusual attitudes.  Talk to an instructor about tailoring your training to the skills you never had, and the skills you most need right now.  You may be surprised at how quick the muscle memory on the control column comes back and how hard it is to see an airplane at 3 miles with old eyes.
         If after three or four hours the instructor and you have a difference of opinion about what you need, or you don’t seem to be moving forward enough, don’t hesitate to ask for a new instructor.  Part of the coming back is finding an instructor who will teach in the style that helps you learn the best.  Oh, and study, study, study.  Take all the free AOPA flight safety courses, maybe twice 😉  Also read the blogs and listen to pod casts as the questions come up in your training.  It’s the hanger flying of today.
    Good luck and welcome back, brother.

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