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On The Ground Wishing You Were In The Air?


King Schools offers specialized kits and packages for lapsed pilots who want to renew their license. Click here to check out our courses.

What Rusty Pilots Need to Know About Getting Back to Flying. Are you a rusty pilot?

Depending on what you fly, it doesn’t take long to get rusty. Tens of thousands of pilots across the U.S. are rusty, lapsed, or simply out of currency. In other words, they have valid certifications, but wouldn’t consider themselves safe (or legal) to go flying. If you’re one of them, and have been thinking about refreshing your pilot’s license, this is for you. Here you’ll find some quick tips lapsed pilots can use to get back into the cockpit, regardless of whether it’s been a few months or a few decades.

It’s Easy to Become a Rusty Pilot

Considering the time and investment it takes to become a licensed pilot, most of us pursue it with the idea that we’ll keep flying on a regular basis, enjoying local flights and fun cross-countries for years to come. And yet, as with any dream, passion, or hobby, it’s easy for life to get in the way.

A change in geography, a more demanding work schedule, or temporary financial pressure can all pull us away from flying. And when that happens, keeping current as a pilot can take a backseat to other, more pressing concerns. Short-term shifts in priorities can lead to longer-term changes in habits, and months, years or even decades can fly by.

How to Renew Your Pilot’s License

If you are one of the thousands of rusty pilots dreaming about returning, now’s the time to make it happen.

Once you have a fresh medical, getting back to flying is a relatively simple process of completing a flight review with a CFI. And, this is the fun part—getting back into the air! Many lapsed pilots are amazed how quickly it all comes back. In fact, many pilots are able to complete a flight review and get signed off after just a few hours with an instructor.

We would urge you to go beyond the bare minimums for currency, however, to make your flying as safe and enjoyable as possible. If you take a long break from aviation, you’ll probably discover that many of your most important skills – like the ability to handle the plane and make good decisions – are still there.

At the same time, you probably will need a little help remembering ATC communications phraseology. And getting up to speed with changes in rules, regulations, airspace and pieces of technology might require a little more effort. That’s where a good instructor and the right learning materials can be a big help.

The First Step for Lapsed Pilots

Regardless of how long you’ve been away from flying, you shouldn’t let that pause keep you from again enjoying that special experience you once loved and that millions of other people can only dream about. All you need to do is take the most important first step – decide it’s time to get back to flying!

You’ll want to schedule an FAA medical exam, of course, and book some time with a good flight instructor. But why not make the process of transitioning back to the airplane as simple as possible?

King Schools offers specialized kits and packages for lapsed pilots who want to renew their license. Click here to check out our Return to VFR Flying series, as well as our Instrument Proficiency Kit. They have all the information a rusty pilot needs to get current again, and investing in either one is a great way to save time and money by showing up to your currency flights with your aviation knowledge fully refreshed.

We look forward to seeing you back at the airport soon!


  1. Sam Velez


    This chat is pretty old. Not sure if you’ll get this, but here goes…😬

    Oct. 10, 2021

    Rusty pilot here. Certified in 1990. Will be signing up for ground school. I plan on retaking the written and oral. However, was wondering if there is a “flight hours” minimum requirement for recertification, or is it just when you and your CFI decide that you’re ready?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.


    • Pilot One

      Hello Sam!

      You are correct, there are no minimum flight hours for a rusty pilot. Ultimately, you just need to pass a Biennial Flight Review (BFR) and your CFI will determine when you are ready to fly again safely.
      Have fun!

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