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Flight Review

Even though reviewing the flight rules of Part 91 is required of pilots, it is my experience that most pilots don’t know the details of the regs—which is not necessarily bad depending on the reg. Most pilots I know fly VFR and make sure they have at least 1 hour of fuel when they land. Some learned the hard way when after landing they put 75 gallons in 75 gallon tanks and others followed the guidance of most aviation writers. The fact that the regs require a minimum of ½ hour when planning is irrelevant to them. Likewise cloud clearances in Class G below 1,200′ isn’t something we deal with at all. We just stay away from clouds, especially in the airport environment. And if visibility is 3 miles, there’s no way I’m going to be up there. But since it is required that you know these things at least for a short while every two years, here is a short summary.

Basically you need to review currency for you and your aircraft, weather rules, and any new things the FAA is focusing on—like hot spots, TFRs, and ADSB requirements.

§ 61.56 Flight review.
(a) Except as provided in paragraphs (b) and (f) of this section, a flight review consists of a minimum of 1 hour of flight training and 1 hour of ground training. The review must include:
(1) A review of the current general operating and flight rules of part 91 of this chapter; and
(2) A review of those maneuvers and procedures that, at the discretion of the person giving the review, are necessary for the pilot to demonstrate the safe exercise of the privileges of the pilot certificate.


Not technically required in a flight review since currency rules are in § 61.57 Recent flight experience, but most flight reviews I’ve had cover currency of plane and pilot. A pilot flying solo VFR only needs a current flight review and medical. In order to carry passengers you need to have made at least three takeoffs and three landings within the preceding 90 days, and if in a taildragger or at night, to a full stop. IFR flight whether with or without passengers, in IMC or not, requires IFR currency.

The kind of simulator that regular pilots have access to, ATDs and AATDs are not able to be used to satisfy the landing requirement but some can be used for IFR currency. This post has details.


The best video I’ve seen for remembering airspace rules is Rod Machado’s.

As Rod pointed out no person may take off or land an aircraft, or enter the traffic pattern of an airport, under VFR unless the ceiling is 1,000′ and visibility is 3 SM. Special VFR operations may only be conducted with an ATC clearance; clear of clouds; within the lateral boundaries of the airport up to 10,000′ MSL. Between sunrise and sunset both pilot and airplane must be IFR current.


§ 61.23 Medical certificates: Requirement and duration. covers the types of medicals and duration.

Medicines According to this “If you take any of the “NO GO” medications (listed below in the table) or if you have had side effects from the medication before, wait at least five (5) dosage intervals after the last dose before flying”.

Basic Med Older pilots often opt for Basic Med instead of a Third Class medical because it lasts 4 years instead of 2 and if you and your doctor find things that would result in denial, you can work through them without having to involve the FAA. There are still some things that require a Special Issuance if they manifest while flying under Basic Med. Things like psychosis, heart attack, unexplained loss of consciousness, and neurological disorders. Details are in § 68.9 Special Issuance process.

Basic Med is good for four years from the date of exam. You need to take the online test once after the physical and before the end of the month two years later to keep it active. You can take the online test at any time to reactivate Basic Med. You can hold a regular medical and Basic Med at the same time. You need to have the physical within 48 months to the day of the last physical. I don’t know why they differ since the language in the reg is the same, but that’s what AOPAs Pilot Protection Services says. AC 68-1A has more details.

FAA Items

TFRs The use of EFBs has made it much easier to comply with TFRs and if you use flight following on every flight ATC will keep you informed of TFRs in your path. If you fly out west, then § 91.137 TFRs in the vicinity of disaster/hazard areas is something you want to be aware of. § 91.141 Presidential and Vice-Presidential TFRs are usually NOTAMed well in advance. Vice-President Harris has homes in San Francisco and just north of Santa Monica and there are small TFRs around them when she is there. The President frequently spends time at his home in Delaware and the TFR there is much larger. Large TFRs follow him when he travels as well.

Hot Spots The FAA is worried about runway and taxiway incursions and is one of the top five safety concerns. “A hot spot is defined as a location on an airport movement area with a history or potential risk of collision or runway incursion, and where heightened attention by pilots and drivers is necessary.” You can find them on the airport diagram when applicable. The From the Flight Deck series has videos for many airports that detail the risks and hot spots.

Personal Minimums The FAA has been emphasizing personal minimums for quite a while now and has a PDF talking about how to set them.

The FAA has an online course Flight Review Prep Guide that covers some of the same things that are in this post.

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