I’m a new PPL and I would love to become a CFI in the next 2 years (or so). My objective would be to transfer what I know (and will have learned) to aspiring pilots. I’m older, though (just about to turn 60). Put it bluntly: am I too old? I know that we can’t talk about people being too old for almost anything these days, but I really would like to know if anyone (e.g. a flight school) would hire an instructor who not only brings rather thin experience (300-400 hrs by then) but combines it with rather ‘advanced age’. The benefit for a school would be that this would be my ‘forever-job’ (first, part-time and then full-time after I retire from my ‘day-job’ in a few years), not a stepping stone to an airline career. Please, feel free to tell me what you really think…


A flight school won't care too much about your age if you have the required medical. And mentally, your age is an overall plus since a flight school would generally prefer a mature individual in it because they want to teach to a 25 year old who's just building time. The turnover with flight schools is quite high so the prospect of getting say at least 5 years out of you is another plus because they may be only getting 2-3 years out of younger instructors in the current environment (often they are basically only hanging on to get to 1500 hours under the "Colgan Rule" craziness).

I would say that that if your health is fine and shows no signs of problems over the next 5 years at least, you should definitely go for it. You might even get a school to commit to hiring you, or at least giving you a shot (it's going to come down to how good a teacher you are), if you train with them.

With the general shortage of bodies all through the system, I don't see any downside if you really keen on doing it. If you gain a reputation as a good teacher students will gravitate to you over the youngsters.

  • $\begingroup$ A CFI only needs Basic Med or a Class III to instruct. Why do you think a flight school would require more than that from an older instructor? $\endgroup$ – JScarry Dec 10 '19 at 1:58
  • $\begingroup$ Ooops I'm in Canada where you need a Cat 1 because the instructor rating goes on top of a commercial license and that requires Cat 1. Post fixed. $\endgroup$ – John K Dec 10 '19 at 2:02
  • $\begingroup$ In the US you also need a Commercial Certificate to become a CFI. You only need a Second Class medical if you want to exercise Commercial privileges. Instructing requires a Third Class medical—which for someone over 40 is every 24 months. An exam every 6 months is only required for ATP pilots over the age of 40. Every 6 months seems a bit much for an instructor. $\endgroup$ – JScarry Dec 10 '19 at 3:21
  • $\begingroup$ In Can a class 2 medical only applies to Controllers. All Comm is Cat 1 all the way up the chain, and private is Cat 3, and there is also what is called Recreational Pilot which is self certify which is more or less a PPL restricted to 1 pax and day only. $\endgroup$ – John K Dec 10 '19 at 3:35

Age is no barrier to becoming a CFI. You bring a lifetime of experiences that you can use to teach and mentor new pilots. Some of my best instructors that I have ever had were in retirement age. They generally took more time to correct deficiencies and were more patient. They weren't concerned with external pressures at home or looking to sit right seat in the multi engine King Air across the ramp.

If you ever lost your medical you can still teach ground school classes, sim sessions and still flight instruct in aircraft provided you are flying with a client who can be the legal pilot in command (i.e. no private or instrument students or expired flight reviews).

There is no requirement in the FAR §61.23 for instructors to hold a medical certificate with the exception of also acting as a required crew member or legal pilot in command.


Absolutely not. If you love flying airplanes and love to teach others how to fly, we need more CFIs like you. These days you can practically pull out a sectional chart and toss a pub dart at it, and whatever airport the dart lands next to, you can probably get a flight instructor job out there. Keep in mind the pay is not very glamorous until you get a couple thousand hours of instruction time under your belt. Some schools may want you to hold an instrument rating on your flight instructor certificate so you can do instrument training. The only real obstacle would be maintaining a medical certificate if you intend to do primary and instrument flight instruction. Aside from that, no there aren’t any age restrictions and it can be a very rewarding side job if you’re so inclined.


There is no upper limit on age for a CFI.

A medical is necessary for primary instruction where the student is not rated.

A medical is necessary for instrument instruction, as the instructor must act as PIC for the safety of the flight.

A medical is necessary to perform flight reviews and IPCs as each requires flight solely by reference to instruments, by the applicant.

One can obtain a CFI with a third class medical, and the local FSDO has provided CFI initial rides to applicants with only a third class medical.

14 CFR 61.39 (a) (4)
(4) Hold at least a third-class medical certificate, if a medical certificate is required;

The above requirement may be defacto amended by the Basic Medical rules, where the aircraft to be flown is compliant with Basic Med requirements.

While I have heard stories of ATP rides in Level D simulators, without medicals, I do not have first hand knowledge of any cases. IMO likely possible, because a medical is not required.

Other ratings may be accomplished if the DPE is willing to act as PIC for the flight, and I know of one example of that.

A third class medical will be sufficient for instruction. A Basic Medical may also be used with many common general aviation training aircraft.

But as for the age limit on CFI, there is only a lower limit, which you have long since blown through. I would suggest that you consider a AGI and IGI ground instructor certificate, which you can work on immediately. Good luck and have fun!


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