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I am a Microlight pilot (Ultralight for U.S folks) with an NPPL(m) rating. The minimum requirements for bi-annual license renewal is:

  • 12 hours flying
  • 12 take-offs and landings
  • 1 hour of instruction
  • Of which 6 hours minimum must be in the 12 months preceding license renewal

Again, to emphasize, this is every 2 years.

Now, in my experience, I feel very rusty after anything more than 2 - 3 weeks off. With these rules, you only need to fly for an average of 30 minutes per month, or 1 hour every 2 months. In theory, when you get your license renewed, you might not have flown at all for 11 months.

My question is - from more experienced pilots (I am under 100 hours), what is the actual safe minimum amount of flying one should do on a monthly basis to maintain, and ideally improve, skill?

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    $\begingroup$ Answers will be very subjective as everyone is different. I don't fly ultralights, but as for small aircraft, I can fly after a couple of years of not having flown and still feel very proficient. Many factors play into this: knowledge retention / memory, flight SIM, practicing checklist procedures, reviewing manuals, flying with someone else, etc. $\endgroup$
    – Adrian
    Apr 13, 2023 at 9:11

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I don't fly microlights, but what I do fly is no more complex really. ie, not retractable, not constant speed prop - just your typical single engine piston.

The revalidation requirements for my PPL(A) are the same as you posted for NPPL. And I would 100% agree with you that it does not seem enough. Many years ago at sub 100 hours I used to only really be able to afford/have time for those minimums and I never really felt it was enough to maintain currency.

In the last 10 years, I have maintained a minimum of 50 hours per year and I feel this is just about enough to remain current and confident. If I go more than 2 weeks without flying I feel a little rusty but not critically so. I tend not to go more than 4 weeks ever these days. In the early days of COVID, I went a couple of months without flying, when I did go again, yes I felt rusty, but it was safe enough (I'm still here, the aircraft could be reused!)

Honestly, as well as flying regularly, the other thing that has improved my confidence and skill more than anything else is flying with other pilots. Right hand seat time is almost as valuable as left hand seat. For one thing, you have so much more brain capacity to listen and watch what is going on. Learn new practices, concentrate on navigation.

So in summary:

  • Fly often, don't leave big gaps.
  • Find some flying buddies, go places you wouldn't go on your own.
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  • $\begingroup$ Many thanks Jamie! Not sure if I can get in 50 a year but will see what I can do :) $\endgroup$
    – Cloud
    Apr 14, 2023 at 8:16

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