Real Answers from Real Pilots

Reality Check on pilot qualifications

Good Morning Chris- I am a Licensed Commercial pilot with Multi engine and Instrument ratings and approximately 3000 hours TT, of which 2000 is Cross Country. The largest aircraft I have flown is the DC-3 with approximately 300 hours, though I am not type rated in it. I am 73 years old and have been approached by a Regional Charter Firm to be trained on a King Air C90 as SIC and be promoted to PIC after 6 months. I have a 2nd Class Med Certificate and am currently training for my Instrument Proficiency flight check.

I have not flown for the last 25 years and was trained in the Air Force under the GI Bill with Analog flight instruments. Now everything is digital in the cockpit. Am I being realistic in trying to get back into flying at my age(considering I passed my 2nd Class Medical) and if so, are there any other requirements that I need to meet to get this job? I am passionate about flying and want to return to the occupation I love. Need your feedback on this.

Hi Gabriel,

The 2nd Class and currency are all that are required so you should be fine. My biggest concern (if I were you) would be that the King Air is a heck of a lot faster than a DC-3. I know many pilots who’ve flown into their 70s and 80s, BUT they all were consistently flying throughout their lives. What concerns me more than your age is the 25yr break and then diving back into a very fast complex airframe. Far be it from me to rain on anyone’s parade. I guess I’d give it a shot. I’m thinking after a few times up you’ll know if it’s going to work or not?

Adam

Thank you Adam for your reply. I have flown the King Air, Queen Air, Baron and Bonanza aircraft before though I am not current on them. Would this help me in my quest to fly the King Air C90?

Gabriel,

I’m sure it would. Again my biggest concern would be the time away. As I said I believe after a few times up you’ll know if this is realistic.

Adam

The full glass, Proline 21 (or Fusion) King Air is a lot to learn. In many more advanced than the Jet aircraft avionics I’ve flown. I would say as long as you get properly trained (full course at Flight Safety or the like) that includes the avionics you will be flying you should be fine. If the company sends you to a recurrent or training on the 6 pack with promises of training once on line, I’d be more apprehensive.

Proline Fusion

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Wow! I find your story so inspiring! That’s not a mistake…you are 73 right? If so…good for you man!

I was getting depressed at not being employed yet at 41! I do have some recent experience which might help you.

I recently went to renew my Instrument Rating in the UK in March. Unforgivably, I did not check the details of my IR renewal criteria. I understood that every consecutive IR renewal could be taken in the sim. Which is correct, except the crucial point I missed was that if, one year from the previous renewal, the IR has not been renewed in the sim., it will need to be taken in the aircraft. I found myself with three days to go to renew in the sim. The only FTO which could accept me on such short notice flew the G1000 equipped DA42. I trained on analogue Beech Duchesses.

To cut a long story short, my previous IR renewals I had always completed in a day…two sim sessions and a test. £1000 max. So far, due to my inexperience with FMS glass cockpits, I am currently three months (part time, admittedly) in to an IR renewal which has thus far cost me £5000, and I still need to have another flight before test!

My point being, transition to glass cockpit is a huge deal for an analogue pilot. It is not insurmountable, obviously, but it is a steep learning curve which will take some time. Good luck though!

To further…in your position, I guess if I was financially secure, and had the time…I’d relish the challenge. If things are not so rosy financially, and I had other financial obligations and responsibilities…I’d have to hesitate. Only you will know your situation. I am sure with your experience, you will transition no problem. But even if you do transition no problem, it will take time and effort.