As all pilots know, the Federal Aviation Regulations require licensed pilots to go through recurrent flight training in the form of a Flight Review every 24 months. The regulations require 1 hour of ground review and a 1 hour flight. This is all that a pilot has to do to legally maintain his or her VFR currency to fly alone in an airplane. Of course, when passengers are aboard, the pilot has to have done 3 takeoffs and landings in the previous 90 days.
What if the pilot in question hasn’t flown in 20 years? All the regulations require is 1 hour of ground review and a 1 hour flight. Kind of scary, isn’t it? (Any instructor worth his salt would not, however, turn a pilot loose with just those flight review minimums if they haven’t flown in 20 years without an extensive amount of recurrent flight training)
Now, a lot can happen in 2 years in between those flight reviews. Regulations change, airspace is modified, and skills change (for the better or worse, most often for the worse over a period of not flying). For a current pilot who flies once or twice a week, those minimums are no problem. Here’s the thing, though. Even those current pilots typically don’t do a lot of stall practice or emergency procedure practice on their own. These are the most critical areas of flight and to only do them every two years leads to a lot of rust building up, sometimes even causing safety concerns in some instances.
How to remedy this? Scheduling recurrent flight training as often as possible with a good instructor who puts you through your paces. Do this often enough and stalls will become second nature. The stall warning horn goes off? Well, lower the nose and add power. Engine failure? Switch tanks and set best glide. Recurrent flight training allows you to become as familiar as possible with your airplane, allowing you to know what to do in every circumstance.
What’s a good recurrent flight training schedule? There are several options out there. The WINGs program is a pretty good option, though you will only have 3 flight training sessions in those two years instead of 1, but it’s a good start. In recent years, the FAA has put out Advisory Circular 61-98B encouraging pilots to begin personal currency programs for themselves. The suggested schedule for VFR recurrent flight training is every 4-6 weeks.
Texas Top Aviation highly recommends this suggested schedule, for both VFR and IFR. The AC doesn’t have a specific recommendation for IFR recurrent flight training, but flying 2-3 approaches a month with an instructor helps keep pilots as proficient as possible in the IFR environment. This way, the instructor can introduce circumstances in a controlled environment that simulate abnormal conditions that might possibly be encountered in flight. If those abnormal conditions are encountered, then it will be second nature on how to handle them, leading to less accidents and safer flying habits.
Try to schedule your recurrent flight training every 4-6 weeks and your piloting skills will stay top notch, keeping you safe and proficient in every circumstance.