Going from Private to Instrument Rating-With a 3 year gap


I just have a question/concern that has been on the back of my mind lately. I received my private license back in the fall of 2014 and absolutely loved it. I have not flown since due to other commitments in my life but I am fully committed to continue my flight training in January 2018 to hopefully someday fly for the majors. My question is do you think it would be hard to train for your instrument rating when you have not flown for over 3 years? Some people have told me it’s just like riding a bike, flying is a skill that you will always retain. Just curious if anyone else has been in my shoes or have heard of anyone being in my shoes and has had a successful experience continuing their flight training. Thank you!



Flying is absolutely not like riding a bike. It is very easy to become stale at it and it can happen very quickly. I strongly recommend that you get some time in the airplane and in ground school with an instructor to help bring you back up to speed.


Hello Kyle,

I helped two students that hadn’t flown in years get their instrument
rating. One hadn’t flown regularly for 10 years. The other 2 years. It
wasn’t the flying that they struggled with. It was their knowledge. Both
succeeded, but one student required much more attention than the other. It
boiled down to the individual.

One student got a BFR prior to starting ATP. That was VERY smart of him and
I advise you to do the same. It will serve you well, especially when you
have to recall all that private knowledge when you train for commercial.
Anyway, he had a work ethic unlike any I had ever seen. He had an hour and
a half commute and still managed to show up early, even for an 0800
showtime. If I told him to do something he would do it. He was always
prepared for his lessons. He passed his instrument ride with flying colors
and completed the full ATP program. He instructed at an international
flight school in California for 18 months and now he’s flying Centurions on
floats in Alaska before he flies for a regional.

The other student, however, THOUGHT he had gotten a BFR before starting
ATP, but didn’t…no need to ask why. That’s beside the point. But, that’s
definitely not the best way to start out. This student was a handful. He’s
the kind of student that was in it for the wrong reasons. He was more
interested in the “cool factor” than the responsibility. That mentality
quickly changed when he realized how much more effort was required of him.
Commercial was a struggle for him too. He managed to pass his instrument
ride and later received his commercial multi and single and is now flying
for an aerial photography company all over the US.

So, it is possible. Like I said, go get current. It’s not required, but if
you have the time it makes things so much easier.



I had my PPL but went 13yrs without flying when I signed up at ATP. I’m not sure if they still offer it, but I explained to ATP my situation and they had me come in a week early and get myself current. It was great because my RE-introduction to flying was done by the instructor I’d end up spending the next few months with before the formal “clock” started ticking. A week later I took my Multi checkride and 3 weeks after that earned my Instrument rating. Definitely not like riding a bicycle but it does come back.