On Saturday the Evansville Regional Airport and EVV Pilots Club held a special class at Tri-State Aero. The goal: get the wheels off the ground for an eager classroom.
For many pilots, the passion for flying never fades away, but sometimes, life happens.
“[I’m] a rusty pilot. I used to fly as a young man and enjoyed it a lot, then got married, had kids, and couldn’t afford it, and now I can afford it again, and want to get back involved,” Michael O’Daniel said.
He’s not alone. Research by the Aircraft Owners and Pilot’s Association shows there’s more than a half million inactive general aviation pilots, and 85 percent of them want to get back in the cockpit.
“These people have experienced this before. This is to help them refresh their memories so that they can become a safe and efficient pilot once again,” Ron Timmermans said. Timmermans gives rusty pilot classes across the county.
Once a person gets their private license, they’re a pilot for life, but they still have to get a flight review with an instructor every two years.
“Regulations change over the years. Like airspace may be different from the time the learned to fly, from what it is today,” Tri-State Aero flight instructor Steven Matthews said.
It’s been a little longer than two years for O’Daniel, who hasn’t flown by himself since he was 24.
“Oh, I don’t think it’s any challenge at all. You just have to commit the time and get excited about it, and get back into learning it,” O’Daniel said. “All the rules involve not bumping into anybody else. You want to keep separation, and airplanes move pretty fast. So you have to follow the rules, and understand the rules, to make sure that everybody’s safe up there.”
Keeping the sky safe and keeping minds sharp is a win-win for rusty pilots, and their instructors.
“I very much enjoy flying, and I enjoy teaching it almost as much,” Timmermans said.