I'm a former USAF pilot and former Bonanza owner. Haven't flown private in more than 20 years, but looking to get back into it. A friend who owns a 182 and will fly with me and I know some instructors. I don't even know where my old certificate and log book is, so this is really starting from scratch. What steps do you recommend?

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to aviation.SE! I'm not sure there's a definitive answer to this, but AOPA's rusty pilot seminars are intended exactly for people in your situation. You might also like to take the tour if you aren't familiar with this site. $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Sep 14 '17 at 23:57
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    $\begingroup$ It's like riding a bike. A friend of mine just jumped back in to aviation cold and only needed about 10hrs to complete his commercial single add-on. Make a few flights in a 182, get a medical (or take the BasicMed route), and do a BFR with someone who is not a friend of yours (read: will give you honest feedback). Set aside 10hrs for that BFR. Some of the rules have changed but all of the basics are still pretty much what existed in 1997...except now paper charts are a waste of time. Get the Avare charting app (free, no ads) if you use Android. $\endgroup$ – acpilot Sep 15 '17 at 2:31
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    $\begingroup$ The FAA just published a safety briefing on this topic $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Sep 22 '17 at 14:58

I do not have a sanctioned answer, but I can give you my take on an overview of what I would plan for someone in your situation.

Your certificate duplicate can be ordered.

You will need a through review of airspace (things have changed), weather gathering (also changed), AIM stuff (changed runway markings, phraseology, etc.). I would urge FAAST courses for various topics you might feel you can get brushed up in.

On the air side, if we were flying, we would do a "checkout" in the 182, covering the systems, cowl flap operation, targeted power settings, trim usage, etc. A little airwork, steep turns, turning to headings, power on and off stall recoveries, emergency procedures and landings, takeoffs and go arounds.

Everyone is different, but the last guy, similar to you, flew C208 and stopped in 2003, and did not fly since then. This summer he hit the books, watched a few videos, took a practice commercial written, and flew 3.4 hours with me. I was real comfortable signing him off, and his wife, who was the concerned party, was real happy with the results.

Two months later we did a instrument proficiency ride, and that was a little more difficult for him, but he completed the ride in two flights and less than 4 hours.

Good luck and enjoy. Have your instructor put a new high performance endorsement in your new logbook for the 182.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, Mongo. I'm sure there are a few gremlins out there waiting for me. I plan on taking my time and listening to whomever is in charge. $\endgroup$ – Irondoor Sep 15 '17 at 21:21
  • $\begingroup$ Just doing a ride with a retired 757 driver who has not flown in 14 years. He decided that he would get a Saratoga. There is slightly more complexity than in the 182, but it's not much. The biggest thing is actually accomplished studying at home. There are simulators for much of the avionics, although the platforms for those simulators may be a pain. (eg Garmin 430 sim runs on XP) Have fun! $\endgroup$ – mongo Sep 15 '17 at 23:55
  • $\begingroup$ BTW, the ride with the Saratoga owner, who used to fly 757s took 3.5 dual, and 4 hours ground, and included a FR and an IPC. The IPC took longer than the flight review. He did one flight in a glider since retiring 14 years ago. So it can come back pretty quickly. $\endgroup$ – mongo Oct 24 '17 at 16:14

As long as you hold at least an FAA PPL, it should be fairly easy. As a former military pilot you could easily obtain an FAA CPL in the category and class of aircraft you flew in the USAF per §61.73.

After that, it’s just a matter of regaining currency. You will have to undergo a flight review with a CFI and receive a logbook endorsement per §61.56 plus an Instrument Proficiency Check, if you intend to fly under IFR, as required by §91.1069 and §61.157. It may take a few flights with an instructor, but it will all come back to you sooner or later.

I would recommend reviewing your training literature you have from the USAF or obtain copies of the FAA’s Airplane Flying Handbook, The Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, The Instrument Flying Handbook, and The Instrument Procedures available to you for self study. I would also recommend that you obtain the latest copy of the FAR/AIM for 2018 and keep that on hand for reference during these flight reviews.

If you don’t currently have access to your certificate, but know you possess one, contact the FAA and request an duplicate copy from them. I’d guess the same kind of inquiry could be made with the USAF for your pilot qualifications with them.

Oh and one other thing: did you obtain a military logbook or a civilian rating just prior to giving up flying? You may see if you can obtain the paperwork from the FAA which you filed for these ratings. These days everything in done on the FAA’s Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA) database, but any Aeronautical experience you file for application for a rating can be used as an official documentation of logged flight times. I’d check on that to rebuild your logbook on.


Apart from the flight training that other answers have covered very nicely, you may need a new medical certificate. You said you used to own a Bonanza so I'll assume you already hold an FAA private certificate (at least). Your options are:

  1. Apply for a regular third-class medical. If you're in good health that should be straightforward, but if you have any health concerns then it would be worth talking to AOPA or an AME before you actually apply for the medical examination.
  2. If you held any valid FAA medical between July 15, 2006 and July 15, 2016 then you could fly without a medical under BasicMed. AOPA has a lot of detailed information on it that's worth checking out (and see this question).
  3. Fly a light-sport aircraft without any medical at all, using sport pilot privileges. (You don't need a medical for gliders or ultralights either.) You mentioned a 182 so I guess you don't plan to go this route, but it's worth including for completeness.

You may also need to obtain a new Pilot License. A rule change went into effect in 2006, that by 2010 all pilots needed a plastic license, looks kind of like a credit card, with hologram on the front, mag stripe on the back, place to sign your name. 2010 was extended to 2013. Can request it at FAA.gov. $2 for a duplicate, free if you want your license # changed from your SSN.


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