At least once per week, if not every day, someone will contact our school and tell us a story. That story sounds like this:
“I flew when I was younger. I loved it. But, life happens. I had kids. Had to save for college. Work got busy. And so it has been 20 years or so since I’ve flown.”
If this sounds familiar, you are not alone. The good news is that even if you haven’t flown in years, you are still a pilot. There is no expiration date on your pilot certificate. You may not be current, but that is something we can fix. A good rule of thumb is that for every year you have been away from flying, it will take an hour worth of flight training to regain a level of comfort and competency. This number is not set in stone and varies with a pilot’s experience and the duration of their leave. A pilot with 2000 hours will generally have an easier time regaining their skills than a pilot with 200 hours.
There are some things you can do to make your journey back to the cockpit efficient and rewarding. First, dig out those old study materials from your earlier training and start getting reacquainted with the language, topics, and decisions you’ll encounter in the air. If it has been many years since you flew, you may find that some things have changed. There are countless resources online to help pilots just like you get back in the air. AOPA has a “Rusty Pilot” course that is free for members and a great reintroduction to aviation.
Second, set a goal for yourself. Rather than just saying “I want to get back into flying” you could set yourself on a path to obtain a new license, work towards flying a new type of airplane, or fly a certain amount of hours per month. Make a goal that is measurable and achievable for yourself. We have found that when a pilot has a goal they are working towards, they are more focused and motivated.
Third, go easy on yourself. Remember, we have this conversation with a pilot just like you all the time. We understand that this process can be intimidating, or even embarrassing for some. In truth, making the decision to return to the sky is the hardest part. Once that decision has been made though, you will be greeted by a community of aviators that want nothing but your success. If learning how to fly was one of the greatest things you have ever done, now is your chance to do it again. How great is that?
The thrill of flying never goes away. It may get buried by work, diapers, obligations, or tuition bills but it is always there waiting for you when you are ready. If it is time for you to get back in the air, contact either of our offices and we will work with you to devise a plan to help you meet your new goals and write the next chapter in your flying story.