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Rusty no more

It's never too late to start again

So what? So, it’s been 10 or 15 years since you sat in the left seat, yelled “clear prop!” and took to the skies.

AOPA Foundation.
Donnie Mackay

So what? You haven’t unlearned everything you learned as a student pilot lo those years ago. You’re just rusty. So, what do you do?

The AOPA Rusty Pilots initiative is designed to help inactive pilots return to flying as quickly and safely as possible. Our motto is, “Once a pilot, always a pilot.” The Rusty Pilots program offers fun, interactive courses that give you all the information you need to get current again. In our in-person seminars, dynamic presenters bring you up to speed on hot-button issues such as medical reform, weather briefings, preflight planning, regulations, and airspace.

AOPA offers three Rusty Pilots educational tracks. You can attend a Rusty Pilots in-person seminar; webinar; take the self-paced, online course; or you can do all three. By completing a Rusty Pilots seminar or webinar, you earn a logbook endorsement attesting that you’ve completed two hours of ground training toward your flight review, as well as FAA Basic Knowledge Wings credits. By completing the Rusty Pilots online course, you earn a course completion certificate that you can share with your flight instructor, as well as FAA Basic Knowledge Wings credits. In either case, AOPA helps you map out the next step in returning to flying.

The Rusty Pilots courses are a free AOPA member benefit and can be taken/attended as often as you like at no charge. Nonmembers may join AOPA and enjoy all the other benefits of being a member in addition to being able to participate in any of the Rusty Pilots formats. The online course is only available for AOPA members.

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Donnie Mackay is the senior manager for the You Can Fly Rusty Pilots initiative and You Can Fly operations. A rusty pilot himself, Mackay was looking for a fun career when he joined AOPA in 2016. In 2017 he completed his first flight review in almost 30 years. Since then, he has flown through the Washington, D.C., Special Flight Rules Area, flown the New York City corridor, and made several bucket-list, cross-country flights.

“It was one of the most meaningful days of my life,” Mackay said of getting signed off to fly again.

2024 AOPA Foundation scholarships

More than $1 million in aviation scholarships is available as a major benefit of AOPA membership, helping members reach their aviation goals. Scholarships range from $250 to $14,000 for primary flight training, advanced ratings and certificates, aviation maintenance, FAA private pilot knowledge exam, or FAA Part 107 remote pilot knowledge exam.

Open to AOPA members who are U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent legal residents. Open September 5, 2023, through February 9, 2024, 11:59 p.m. EST. The number and amount of all scholarships will be determined by donor funding, which may not be finalized until immediately before awards are announced. Scholarship applicants will be considered for all scholarships for which they qualify.

Julie Walker

Julie Summers Walker

AOPA Senior Features Editor
AOPA Senior Features Editor Julie Summers Walker joined AOPA in 1998. She is a student pilot still working toward her solo.

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