Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Getting Back Into It

Rust removal can actually be fun

Low-time pilots often have an easier time psychologically getting back into flying than high-time pilots, who may underestimate how much the passing years have eroded their skills. However, old instincts will return to high-time pilots much more quickly.
Yeah, I got my license, but then I got married, had a couple of kids and got engrossed in building my career, so I didn't fly for a long time. Then I decided to get back into it.

The foregoing should be put on a rubber stamp. It's such a common tale of aerial woe that a quick stamp in their logbook would relieve pilots of having to continually explain why they stopped flying for so long. The next chapter of their flying life is also super common: knocking rust off of skills left dormant for far too long.

Back In The Saddle
Rick Martin, of Thunder Bay, Ontario, has a slightly different version of the just-married thing, which is also painfully common, but with the same result.

"I didn't fly for 10 years after I got divorced because I sold my plane. Finally, I couldn't stand it any longer. However, getting back into it was hard and one of the scariest things I have ever done. My mind knew exactly what to do, but the physical reactions were all wrong. It was worse than learning to fly the first time," Martin explains.

The reaction of those getting back in the saddle after having laid off flying for years varies from Martin's tale of personal agony to those like Glenn Session's comment: "After 20 years, I'd forgotten how much fun it can be. And how challenging! It was far from being easy, but I felt as if I had discovered flying all over again, and I loved it."

It's hard to reconcile the different feelings pilots have after deciding to jump back into flying, but almost 100% of the time, the motivation behind making that leap is the same. Pilots say, "There was something missing. Something I knew wasn't complete about my life at that moment, and it didn't take much to figure out what that was. I'd be constantly watching airplanes and stopped at every airport I drove past."

What To Expect
The big question for anyone who has decided, "Enough! I'm getting current again," is how to go about it, and what kinds of problems/difficulties they can expect.

First, if the motivation to get back into flying is the result of retiring and having both the time and money, this automatically means the pilot is a so-called "senior citizen." That being the case, whether they like to admit it or not, in the back of their minds, they're asking, "Am I too old to be doing this?" That's actually a quite easy question to answer, "No, you're not too old."


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