How do I renew an old and expired pilot’s license?

Paul, one of the bloggers on AskaCFI.com, was recently asked a question by a reader that has no doubt crossed the mind of many one-time pilots:

I stopped flying over 20 years ago and would like to start again. What do I need to do to get reissued my license?

To begin his answer, Paul noted that there has been some “really neat advances in technology since 1989, especially in avionics.” This of course is putting it mildly as he is quick to add that “if you get the chance to fly a newer airplane, it’ll blow your socks off!”

Paul then answers the reader’s question by pointing out that if you are a USA based piloted, there are a couple of different federal aviation regulations that pertain to renewing an old pilot license:

    1. § 61.19 Duration of pilot and instructor certificates
    2. § 61.2 Exercise of Privilege
    3. § 61.23 Medical certificates: Requirement and duration.
    4. § 61.56 Flight Review
    5. § 61.57 Recent Flight Experience : Pilot in command

He then goes into some detail about each of these regulations and then he comes up with a plan-of-action to get his reader back in the cockpit. This plan-of-action included:

    1. Call an Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) and schedule an appointment for obtaining your FAA medical certificate. 
    2. Once you have a current medical certificate in hand, call a CFI and schedule a biennial flight review (BFR).  
    3. Apply for your new plastic certificate.

Of course and USA regulations aside, the key takeaways for non-USA based pilots is to first determine what the applicable regulations are and then to come up with a plan of action that takes those regulations into account. With this approach, you will soon determine just how difficult it will be to get back into the cockpit again.

4 Responses to How do I renew an old and expired pilot’s license?

  1. Kendall R Dance April 12, 2011 at 18:39 #

    Hi I done my licence in 1981 in richardsbay South Africa and would like to reaquire my licence,my old licencs expired in 1983 and have not flowen again,what do i have to do to renew it,do i have to go back to South Africa and do it there or can I do it here in the USA

    regards Ken Dance

  2. prem July 29, 2011 at 17:29 #

    hi, kendall…i have the same problem..i need to do bi-annual flight review..here in the u.s.a….lookin for a south african based flight instructor…who can do a flight review

  3. David Barr February 4, 2012 at 01:22 #

    Since when do US pilot's licenses expire? My license, issued back in the early 70's, does not have an expiration date. It's always been my understanding that a license does NOT expire, it comes down to currency requirements and a current medical. Please comment.

  4. David Barr February 4, 2012 at 18:33 #

    Please disregard my previous comment. I have not flown in a few years and was not aware that the FAA had declared my "old paper" certificate invalid.

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