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Rusty Pilots Initiative

Been Out of the Cockpit For a while? Here's How to Get Back In!

Think you've lost too much and forgotten everything? Afraid it'll be like starting over? No worries, Rusty Pilots will get you back in the left seat fast!

Getting Back To Flying: Easier Than You Think

If you're like more than 500,000 other pilots (that's right, half a million), you've taken a little breather from flying. Maybe more than a little. Perhaps life threw you a curve. Maybe the pitter-patter of little feet, a growing business, or a medical setback had something to do with it. Whatever the case, things are different now. You're back in the game and would like to start flying again. You've come to the right place.

The AOPA Rusty Pilots program has helped over 9,000 inactive pilots return to flying. If 9,000+ other people with similar stories can do this, you can too! Yes, it will take some time, work, and money but if you take one step at a time, you too can return to flying.

No Checkride Required. You Can Do This. 

You may have forgotten that pilot certificates never expire. Once a pilot, always a pilot. You never have to take another test or worry about another checkride. All you need is a Flight Review (formerly known as a Biennial Flight Review). That's it. A little brush-up with your local CFI, enough flights to demonstrate competence again (minimum one hour), and – presto! – you're back in the air. Seriously, that's all it takes.

The Rusty Pilots Initiative Will Get You Started

AOPA has created a fun, interactive program that gives you all the information you need to get current again. Our dynamic presenters will bring you up to speed on hot-button issues like medical reform, weather briefings, preflight planning, FARs, and airspace. AOPA is currently offering two Rusty Pilots learning tracks. You can attend a Rusty Pilots webinar, take the self-paced, online course, or you can do both. By completing a Rusty Pilots webinar, you will earn a logbook endorsement attesting that you’ve completed two hours of ground training toward your Flight Review, as well as two FAA Wings credits. By completing the Rusty Pilots Online course, you will earn a course completion certificate that you can share with your flight instructor, as well as two FAA Wings credits. In either case, we will help you map out the next step in returning to flying. All Rusty Pilots initiatives are FREE for AOPA members.

Meet Our Instructors

Resource Guide

Click here to download a copy of the Rusty Pilots Resource Guide. It's a convenient cockpit and study reference especially designed to help rusty pilots get ready for the left seat!

How do I get current after an extended break from flying?

More than 60,000 pilots have qualified to fly under the FAA's BasicMed program. All you need to get legal and current is a medical certificate or BasicMed (if eligible) and a Flight Review (formerly known as Biennial Flight Review). The regulations require that the Flight Review consist of at least one hour of ground instruction and one hour of flight time. Depending on how much rust you've accumulated, you may need more. 

Find a local Aviation Medical Examiner here, but be sure to contact us with any questions about your medical history or conditions before you go for your exam.  


It depends on how long you've been away from flying and how experienced you were when you stopped. Generally, the longer it's been since you flew the more instruction you'll need to get current, but not always. Your CFI may be able to give you at least a rough idea after your first ground and flight sessions. 

Do I have to take any more tests

No! There are no written exams or checkrides required—you just need to complete a Flight Review. A logbook endorsement from your CFI is all you need.

What topics are covered in the Rusty Pilots Webinar?

The Rusty Pilots initiative is designed to bring you up to date on regulatory and procedural changes that may have taken place during your time away from flying, as well as provide a refresher on medical requirements, cross country planning and weather (METARs and TAFs), pilot responsibilities, runway incursion avoidance, radio procedures, airspace and much more. The material is presented in a fun, interactive way, and you’ll have the chance to download the materials so you can review what you’ve learned and know what to do next. 


Whether you attended the Rusty Pilots webinar or online course, you will have received at least a couple of hours of ground training towards your flight review. Now you’ll need a minimum of one hour of flight time. Depending on how long you have been rusty, it may take longer than that. Ultimately, it will be up to your flight instructor to decide how much flight and ground instruction you’ll need to be ready to safely act as pilot in command.


The webinar schedule can be found here. Rusty Pilots online can be found here.

What should I do to prepare?

If you have time, do a little boning up on the Flight Review in advance of the class so you’re a step ahead. Start by downloading (and printing, if you like) the Rusty Pilots Resource Guide. The Rusty Pilots Resource Guide can be found above (on this page) and is used for both the webinar and the online course.

You can also thumb through some of your old books and charts to re-familiarize yourself with the topics that will be discussed. Don’t have time to do any homework in advance? No problem. The topics will be covered during the session, so just come and enjoy.


Zip. Zero. Nada. Rusty Pilots webinars and the online course are 100% free for AOPA members. It’s just one more great benefit to being an AOPA member. Not a member? Now worries! You can join AOPA and take the course or attend the webinars as many times as you like. For more information about becoming a member, click here. The course and webinars are $79 each, should you choose not to join AOPA.


Check out the list of free courses and materials specifically selected for Rusty Pilots in ASI's Rusty Pilots Safety Spotlight.