AOPA’s Rusty Pilots Course, Good For Everyone!

by Dave Weiman
@August 2020 All rights reserved.
Published in Midwest Flyer – August/September 2020

It was time to complete my biennial flight review (BFR), and my flight instructor encouraged me to first take AOPA’s Rusty Pilots Online Course for three reasons: 1) it’s an excellent review of regulations and procedures, 2) it meets the requirements of the ground training portion of the flight review, and 3) it’s free to AOPA members!

Since the 1970s, biennial flight reviews have been required of all pilots who intend to act as pilot-in-command, as per Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) Section 61.56.

The BFR consists of a minimum of 1 hour of flight training and 1 hour of ground training. It must include a review of the current general operating and flight rules of Part 91, and a review of those maneuvers and procedures that, at the discretion of the person giving the review, are necessary for the pilot to demonstrate the safe exercise of the privileges of the pilot certificate.

The review should be a proficiency evaluation accomplished in an economical and expeditious manner, while providing a learning experience, without the pressure associated with a check-ride. Still, if your flight instructor feels that you are not fit to fly, he won’t sign you off.

Prior to the review, the pilot and flight instructor should discuss the flight review’s basic content, including the elements to be covered in both the oral and flight portions. These elements should be understood by the pilot and the flight instructor prior to initiating any phase of the review.

Like many of you, I have been flying continuously for a very long time, and it has become second nature. Still, we all need to avoid becoming complacent, and practice on a regular basis to stay proficient.

Before now, I always looked at AOPA’s Rusty Pilots Course as something good for pilots who have not been flying for a while, and it is. But now having taken the online course, I am convinced that it provides an excellent review for active pilots as well.

Short quizzes after each chapter test your knowledge and grasp of each subject area. The “Rusty Pilots Resource Guide” is also a very useful tool, and available online, and from AOPA at each of its in-person Rusty Pilots Seminars.

After you complete the online course, you receive a “Certificate of Course Completion” you can print out and show your flight instructor, and that will count towards the ground training portion of your biennial flight review, thus saving you time and money.

In addition to taking the Rusty Pilots Online Course, I reviewed my Pilot’s Operating Handbook (POH) for my airplane, especially those chapters that cover normal and emergency operating procedures, short and soft-field takeoffs and landings, and airspeeds, such as the best rate of climb (Vy) and best angle of climb (Vx).

During the flight portion of the review, my instructor simulated smoke in the cockpit, and I demonstrated how best to get the aircraft on the ground in the shortest amount of time. We also practiced loss-of-power-on-takeoff procedures, power-off emergency landings, and short-field takeoffs and landings.

Again, the Rusty Pilots Online Course is free to AOPA members, but donations to the AOPA Air Safety Institute are welcomed.

Here’s a link to the course: Otherwise, you can go to, select the Training & Safety Section, and then Lapsed Pilots and Rusty Pilots Seminars. There, you will find information on completing your flight review. For additional information, email, or call 1-800-USA-AOPA.

Speaking of the importance and convenience of taking online courses, I want to remind you that if you haven’t yet registered for a free online subscription to Midwest Flyer Magazine, I encourage you to do so without delay. Simply go to and click the “Subscribe Now” banner ad, or go directly to the signup page:

Thank you for reading Midwest Flyer Magazine!

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