FAA Wings is a very useful program for fulfilling your pilot currency requirements and also feeds your “alpha pilot” need for personal achievement. I personally never do a flight review any more but stay constantly current with the FAA Wings Program. There is always a new challenge and a feeling of accomplishment. Unfortunately Wings is poorly understood and suffers from “design by committee.” It is slow to load on the web but stick with me it is certainly worth the effort!
Why? Pilots are usually predictably “alpha performers.” They love a challenge, crave accomplishment and feed on achievement (me too!) My wife used to joke when I successfully accomplished a new pilot certificate or rating; “how’s that new Boy Scout badge?” Wings provides a constant time line of accomplishment and also rewards you with constant re-education, flight proficiency (sharper, safer pilot), and also the benefit of 61.56 flight currency.
Let’s unpack the FAA Wings program and hopefully get you involved and excited about maintaining and tracking your currency. I just achieved my Level 3 Master Wings…that is my most recent “pelt on the wall” to satisfy my pilot need for accomplishment. Notice my “flight review” is not due for 25 months. Before that date I guarantee I will add another level through some seminars and flying (I do spend a lot of time flying).
How does this program work? There is a whole manual available here but we will go through the basics. Three ground school events of your choosing need to be accomplished, then three flight events again chosen by you are accomplished and as a last step “validated” by your CFI. When you are done a Certificate becomes available for printing and this counts as your flight review! Easy. Here is mine:
The important point most people miss is that you choose the ground and flight modules you want to accomplish! Print them out before flight so your CFI knows what you are supposed to cover and then fly and have fun. There is no minimum time requirement! If you accomplish all three flight elements in an hour, you are done!
The interface for selecting the courses is a bit cumbersome. Here is a screen shot. Remember this website is SLOW. “Click and wait” is the rule for the Wings website! Also, it does seem to function fairly well with all the most common browsers. These shots were with a Firefox Browser.
Select your ground training on the top…this often is credit for attending an FAA Safety meeting (painless) or an AOPA training video you probably watch anyway. The flight elements are selected on the bottom and often can all be accomplished in an hour if you are proficient. Make sure to print out your checklist before flight and bring it for your CFI so you can complete all the flight elements efficiently and get the required endorsements into your logbook. The last step after the flying is complete is “Request Credit.” Here you will put in the date you accomplished the flight and select your CFI from a drop down list. The first time is tricky finding your instructor in the list but the system should retain your CFI for future reference. Once they approve credit for your flights and you complete all “flight activities” your FAA Wings (and flight review) are complete. A certificate and wallet card are available for download and printing. Did I mention you get a cool set of Wings to wear also? Satisfy that inner need for accomplishment with a “new scout badge” and you’re good for two years (or continue with the intermediate and master level for more training and fun). ©2015, David St. George