“Bless me, flight instructor, for I have failed to maintain currency. It has been five years, ten months, and twenty days since my last flight as pilot-in-command…”
I didn’t get to fly today, which was a tiny disappointment (there was a mechanical issue with the plane I had reserved, and the only other plane available had a glass cockpit, which I haven’t ever flown), but I did get started on my “rusty pilot” ground training.
For those unfamiliar with the process (which I’m assuming is probably most of my audience), a private pilot needs a few things to fly legally. First is a pilot’s license, which I got back in 2009. Those don’t expire, but they’re useless (legally) without the other components.
The second is a current medical certificate. These have to be renewed every two years for guys like me who are just flying little Cessnas and Pipers. (For commercial pilots, the ones flying you around on United, American, Delta, Southwest, and so on, it’s every six months.) Since I hadn’t flown in almost six years, my medical certificate had expired about four years ago. Being a bit older and taking some different medications meant some additional paperwork, which meant some additional time, but I finally got that taken care of in early August.
The third thing I need to fly legally is a “BFR” or “Bi-annual Flight Review.” Every two years, I have to have a flight instructor make sure that I still know what I’m doing. It’s not necessarily as stressful as having an FAA check ride, but it’s a couple hours of work and you have to prove that you’re still competent. But that assumes that you’re current, you’ve been flying regularly, and you occasionally practice and/or use procedures that might not be everyday occurrences.
When you haven’t flown in five years, ten months, and twenty days, you are neither current, practiced, or competent.
So the task at hand is to get the BFR done, but it’s going to take more than just the legally required minimum of two hours of flight instruction. My guess is that it’s going to take something like ten to twenty hours of flying, along with a lot of ground school and other review of the rules, regulations, aerodynamic theory, etc.
Much of the ground school stuff can be done on my own, and I’m in fact well into doing that. About three weeks ago I wrote about a software issue I was having – that was referring to a fairly extensive software package of videos and tests that I had ordered as part of a “rusty pilot” training package. It’s working now, so I’m going through hours and hours of review tutorials.
Today I thought we might start the flying part, but that wasn’t to be. I did get a bunch of the paperwork out of the way with the flight school and I met my new flight instructor. We went over the plan of what to expect for this process and got started on the ground training. I’ve got my marching orders on the studying and we’ll start flying in a couple of weeks. (The scheduling is going to be a bitch to start – between work Monday through Friday from 9 to way past 5 every day, my CAF work all day on Saturday, there aren’t a lot of options left for flying. Then when I have to not only find a hold in the flight instructor’s schedule but also a plane that’s available at the same time, with a LOT of other people also wanting to rent planes on Sundays, I have a problem.)
All in all, confession is good for the soul (I’m told) and I’m glad to see that next step behind me. Now, instead of five Hail Marys and two Our Fathers, for penance I’ll go watch the next video on airspace review.