Is it practical to continue to work in the industry past 65?

I was searching for options for earning money flying commercially beyond the age of 65 when I found this forum. It seems that most of the conversation relates to being a regional or majors pilot. That’s not my primary goal.

I retired from my employment with a major financial institution in the U.S. at age 51. I have spent the past 10 years building a business in East Asia. I recently sold the business and I’m thinking about my return to America and the next undertaking. I have always wanted to fly for a living, but never had the time or the money for the training.

Now, at age 61, I have both. My goal would be to find full-time employment as an instructor. My salary requirements are not that high, in that I have my pension and some money in the bank. I can’t think of anything that I would rather do than wake up every morning knowing that I had the opportunity to fly and share my knowledge on the subject with others. Is it realistic that I could get a full-time CFI job in the next year or so and continue to work in the field into my seventies?


Technically, you can flight instruct for as long as you can maintain a third class medical. Realistically, I do not see you being able to do so simply because of people’s perceptions of age. I have flown with many a pilot that is approaching age 65, some are super sharp, others not so much. It does seem like age affects one’s ability to react quickly, which is vital when flight instructing. Now if I take my son out to the airport to learn to fly and I get to chose between a CFI who is young and sharp and one that is in his seventies, call me an ageist, but I am going to pick the young one. I feel that many people would be exactly the same way. Also, it does get hard for people to maintain the medical certificate as they get older.

I know you want to fly, but I might suggest getting your private license and flying for fun; this would cost much less and still allow you to fly.


Thanks for the rapid reply, Chris. I’m been pondering this question for the past couple of weeks and I finally have a candid answer. I appreciate you time and input. Thanks again!

Anytime. Let us know how else we can help you.



I’m going to disagree with Chris on this one (in fact my friend Cap who retired last year just got hired instructing at a local flight school). First off the pilot shortage has effected every part of the industry all the way down to CFIs. Many flight schools are hiring and as long as you have the required licenses, ratings and medical so I really don’t believe you’d have a problem. You also would be the rare instructor who’s not looking to bail ASAP and after the 2yr mark you’d be a desirable commodity. To instruct CFI’s the instructor needs to have been instructing for 2yrs. Since most are getting picked up after 1-1.5yrs at Regionals there’s a shortage of those.

Maybe it’s because I’m older too but I have no problem with an experienced looking CFI and I’m sure I’m not alone. If you’re still not sure go visit a few local flight schools and ask them directly. Of course I could be wrong but I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.


Thanks, Adam! I can certainly understand Chris’ position and, frankly it is what I expected to hear. On the other hand your argument is the one that has been running around in my head since I came up with this notion. I think that you make a great suggestion with the idea of visiting some flight schools and getting some feedback from them.

A little more background on me, I spent the first 20 years of my working life in law enforcement. I returned to school to study computers and networking in 1997 at age 40. People said that I would never get hired in the youthful tech industry in San Francisco. As it turned out, in 1999, the Y2K scare had companies hiring anyone who knew the difference between a bit and a byte. I got my first full time tech job at 43 and worked it for 8 years, becoming the manager of the department where I started out after the first 6 years. People called me crazy when i decided to pursue entrepreneurship for the first time at age 51 in a foreign country. Ten years later, my company was the number one google search for our products in Asia and the same company recently sold for mid six figures.

That being said, I know a long shot when I see one and my expectations have been heavily tempered. I can’t tell you how much both you and Chris’ perspectives mean to me. You have provided great insight for me and a really appreciate your commitment to the community and your advice.