AOPA to Lapsed Pilots: Come Back


AOPA has launched an initiative to help pilots who have stepped away from flying return to the sky. “Get back in the left seat” is the motto of the Rusty Pilots initiative, a free nationwide program to reactivate lapsed pilots. The initiative draws on a notably successful local effort at Aviation Adventures flight school in Virginia, and applies knowledge gleaned from surveying inactive pilots about what would help them get back in the air. Rusty pilots can participate by registering to attend free seminars, in the company of other returning pilots, at a local flight school or flying club, where they can discover a path back to flying presented in a supportive, social setting. AOPA will also hold a Rusty Pilots program the evening before each of the six AOPA Regional Fly-Ins, and the Frederick, Md., Homecoming, with long-time Air Safety Institute presenters Mark Grady and Pat Brown introducing the program.

AOPAs announcement said that its research showed that 87 percent of the many thousands of pilots who have not flown in recent years said they either intend to come back or might come back to flying. The Rusty Pilots initiative seminars also seek to eliminate misconceptions about a comeback being a difficult or unduly long process. For example, some pilots assumed (incorrectly) that they must take a checkride, or pass a written test, or that the process of returning might take as long as a year. The Rusty Pilots seminar will be an approximately 2.5-hour session covering ground school topics that satisfy the ground portion of a flight review, along with subjects of special interest to lapsed pilots, such as what it takes to act as pilot in command again, knowledge areas that may have changed since the last time you flew, and a refresher on airspace and Part 91 regulations. AOPA said that its work into getting pilots back in the left seat showed that it takes a typical lapsed pilot about one hour of dual-instruction flight time for each year the pilot has been away from flying-although it may be less, even if decades are involved. Flight schools and flying clubs can request to host a Rusty Pilots presentation.