Rusty Pilot Course

Rusty Pilots Making Flying Errors Is Next Aviation Headache” This is the headline to an article published by Bloomberg in December, 2020. Though it focuses on the impact to airlines, it’s just as much a problem for General Aviation.

The FAA has no “Rusty Pilot” category. The closest they come is §61.57(a)(1), “Recent flight experience: Pilot in command”

“… no person may act as a pilot in command of an aircraft carrying passengers … unless that person has made at least three takeoffs and three landings within the preceding 90 days … as the sole manipulator of the flight controls; and … in an aircraft of the same category, class, and type …”

From a safety perspective, though, some could argue the FAA punted in the next sub-paragraph, §61.57(a)(2):

“(2) For the purpose of meeting the requirements of paragraph (a)(1) of this section, a person may act as a pilot in command of an aircraft under day VFR or day IFR, provided no persons or property are carried on board the aircraft, other than those necessary for the conduct of the flight.”

Whether it’s been three months and a day or 23 months and 30 days, the FAA says you can carry passengers immediately after your third landing. But if your flying muscles have not been exercised in over three or 23 or even more months, how confident would you be and how safe would your passengers feel? That’s why Sharpes Aero offers a ground- and flight-based Rusty Pilot Course.

Ground Work

There are several options for the ground work. While you may be able to knock the rust off your brain cells with YouTube videos or courses by Sporty’s or King Schools (to name a few), Sharpes Aero highly recommends AOPA’s online Rusty Pilot course. We took the course ourselves and found many things to like. It took about 3 hours and 40 minutes to complete all nine chapters, about the length of the Rusty Pilot seminars hosted by AOPA.

NOTE: You don’t need to be an AOPA member to watch the preview video for the Rusty Pilot Online BUT you do need to login in. When asked, AOPA replied:

“The preview is free, but to access it one will need a (free) web account on They can create the account by clicking on the ‘login’ button at the top right of the page and then clicking on the create account link. All of our courses require a free web account to access so that the completions will be recorded on their transcripts.”

To view the actual program, though, you do need to be an AOPA member. When you consider that other Rusty Pilot programs will cost several hundred dollars, the $79 for membership makes it not only a bargain but gives you access to all AOPA resources as well as a subscription to AOPA Pilot.

Finally, there are two other benefits to their “Rusty Pilot Online” program not found elsewhere.

Getting that WINGS credit means the ground portion of your flight review will go much more easily (less stress for you) and quickly (less stress on your billfold to pay for ground instruction).

Air Work

The flying part of Sharpes Aero’s Rusty Pilot course will start with a demonstration flight, where we will use the Private (or Commercial) Pilot ACS standards to see what needs just a little polish and what needs something more.

We’ll review how you did after the flight and then set up a plan to get your flying skills back up to par.

It’s not a Flight Review, but …

Even if it hasn’t been more than 24 months since your last flight review, successfully completing both ground and air work will expedite getting you the sign-off you need to prove you are no longer a Rusty Pilot.

With that in your logbook, not only will you have confidence in your skills but so will your passengers!