How much flying is “enough” to “keep current”?

As regular readers of this blog may have noticed, the blogging frequency has dropped way down. The main reason for this is that, unlike my intense training period in March/April of this year, I’m not flying every day, but only every few weeks. In addition, I’m now in the very late stages of my path to achieving my PPL, with all exams now done and only a single dual cross-country nav flight standing between me and my final PPL test.

So the vaguely vexing issue of long-ish intervals between training flights has been somewhat on my mind. As I write, it’s been nearly 4 weeks since my last flight, which I believe is the longest interval since I started my flight training.

I had the final dual nav flight scheduled for Wednesday of this week, but as fortune would have it, I was ill over the weekend and as of Monday this week I was still recovering. As a precaution – not wishing to take to the air with any remnant whatsoever of the stomach bug I was suffering from – I cancelled the flight. For various reasons, the next workable day on which I can do this flight is 20 July, a few weeks from now. I compared that to the last date on which I flew – back on 3 June – and saw that this is an interval of 47 days between flights.

Which is probably (a) pretty common for “weekend warrior” student and private pilots like me, and (b) by no means as extended an interval as that practised/suffered by many part-time pilots. Having said that, it will be the longest interval between flights that I’ve yet had, and – though I freely confess to being paranoid – I do feel a little rusty already. (Think I’ll try and squeeze in an hour of circuits late next week, just to get back into the swing of things a bit.)

It got me thinking, though, about how much flying is a “bare minimum” for keeping reasonably abreast of your meagre skills as a VFR private pilot, part time? Once I’ve got my PPL, I’ve got the following rough plan which I think is both realistic and adequate:

  1. At least one one-hour local flight per month, alternating between circuits and training area flights (each training area flight to focus on one or two key manoeuvres eg stalls, forced landings); and
  2. A cross-country navigation/pleasure flight every 3 months, including the occasional Victor One/Harbour Scenic flight for friends/visitors.

What do you guys think: what is the “minimum” frequency with which you try to fly, so that you feel “current”?

Postscript

A few weeks after writing this blog entry I ventured back into the circuit after nearly 6 weeks of no flying. This gave me some insight into just how rusty you can get after even a relatively short break from flying. Something to be well aware of for “weekend warriors” such as myself.

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4 responses to “How much flying is “enough” to “keep current”?

  1. This is a good question, Dave. And your developing insight is right on the mark. Personally, I would like to fly enough circuits a day to fill a little 30 minute slot; I once had a friend who flew his Ercoupe solo everyday at sunset for about 15 minutes until his death at age 89.

    Over my career, I felt best with daily flying and adequate with weekly flying and OK with a monthly flight. As I sit here writing this, my last was ? months ago. I have gone a year (although I didn’t like it) and found getting “back in the saddle” was merely a quick review and a couple of circuits.

    It’s all about the money! And it is getting more expensive by the day.

    • So true Joe.

      Ideally I would fly at least every couple of weeks, and I hope that in the future I can do this. But in our early 40’s, with our 2 older children (21 and 15) and in particular our 2 younger children (nearly 5, and 18 months) and our full time jobs, Laura and I are in arguably the busiest period of our lives. I’m not expecting to average much more than a monthly flight for at least the next 5-10 years. Hopefully as the kids get older and we pay off our mortgage (and don’t take on too much other debt) I’ll be able to ramp it up a bit.

  2. Pingback: Back in the circuit: Brushing up on some fundamentals after 5 weeks no flying « MidLifePilot's Flying Blog

  3. Pingback: So, what next with my flying? | MidLifePilot's Flying Blog

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