Legal or Safe – The Flight Review is not enough…

A flight review is not enough to save the ones you love.

     The FAA has some very clear minimum standards for flying. If you meet them, you are legal to fly… but does that make you proficient and safe? There are many examples, but today we’ll talk about the flight review. According to FAR 61.65 just two skimpy hours of training is enough every two years. Airline pilots are required to undergo intensive emergency and reccurency training at least every year, if not six months. Your chances of survival in an emergency are directly related to how often and how much time has passed since the last time you practiced them.  
   Imagine an engine failure at 1000 feet with your family on board. Is a one hour flight and lunch with your flight instructor buddy two years ago really going to help? How about at least three hours of safety education with at least 2-3 hours of flight training on emergencies and techniques you haven’t done including stalls, steep turns, and engine failures every year? I’ve had engine failures and survived an engine fire at 300 feet by turning back to my departure airport. When people ask how I did it, or if I was scared my answer is always the same. It was easy and no I wasn’t scared because I knew what to do and have practiced for it over and over? What was Captain Sully’s quote about the safe landing on the river? “We just followed our training.”

   The general aviation accident rate has stayed the same for the last 40 years because we accept the minimums as enough. My challenge to all pilots is to do better. If we start with an FAA Wings review every year, I guarantee we can change the problem. Leading insurance companies like AVEMCO know that this reduces accidents, that’s why they give discounts to pilots who are active in the FAA Safety program. The AOPA Air Safety Institute was a pioneer in safety education and helps thousands of pilots every year become safer. is a growing nationwide group with over 10,000 members who are dedicated to reducing general aviation accidents through education. The FAA Safety Team has volunteer members that provide education on a local and national basis. The resources are here and, it’s easy to be better.

   Remember your family and friends want you come home every flight and keep them safe. How do you go above the minimums for safety? Let us know in the comments below.

About the author:

Gary D Reeves, ATP, Master CFI, CFII,MEI has been flying for over ten years and has over 5000 hours including turbojet and turboprop experience. As an expert in aviation safety he is a volunteer on the FAA Safety team and founded the volunteer group If you have any questions, comments or suggestions please visit or contact him directly at