Has it been a while since your last flight as Pilot in Command? If so, you’re not alone. According to AOPA, more than 500,000 pilots in the United States are inactive. If you’re itching to get back in the air, there’s no time like the present!
First, let’s be clear: Being a rusty or lapsed pilot is not something to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. Life happens, and there are many reasons why people take a break from flying:
The good news? It’s not as difficult as you may think to get back into the left seat! The key is to be aware of your rusty skills — and intentional about rebuilding them.
Here are three things you can do to knock off the rust and return to the skies safely:
One way to knock off the rust faster is to hit the books. Luckily, it’s easier than ever to access quality aviation education. You could go through your local flight school, or check out AOPA’s Rusty Pilots for fun, interactive online courses that provide all the information needed to get current again. Completing a Rusty Pilots webinar earns you a logbook endorsement that counts for two hours of ground training toward your flight review, as well as two FAA Wings credits.
According to FAR Part 61.56 (c), active pilots must complete a flight review with a CFI every 24 calendar months. This isn’t a check ride, but it is required. If you’re rusty, schedule time with your favorite flight instructor to get current and feel confident before your flight review. A few flight lessons will help you brush up on the basics in a comfortable environment, and your instructor should be able to help you identify areas for improvement.
Remember, it’s natural to feel discouraged if your skills aren’t where they once were. Stay patient and enjoy the process. It’s worth it!
If you can’t get flight time with an instructor yet, or if you’re apprehensive about going up in the air again, try starting with a flight simulator. Modern at-home flight simulators have become incredibly realistic and surprisingly affordable. Your local flight school may also have a simulator to help you rebuild basic skills. If you can’t access a sim, chair flying is free and beneficial at any stage of flight training.
At Hartzell Propeller, we have a deep-rooted passion for general aviation, and we’d love to see as many rusty pilots as possible return to flight with confidence and proficiency. That’s why we support programs like the EAA Pilot Proficiency Center, which offers immersive, hands-on experience in an innovative simulator environment. If you’re planning to attend AirVenture 2023, be sure to visit the PPC and register for a scenario-based simulator experience.