FAA Wings Program
posted May 23, 2003
I highly encourage pilots to participate in the FAA Wings program, which is also called the “Pilot Proficiency Awards Program.” This is a better alternative to a Flight Review to stay current. Here’s why:
- For pilots who do not fly very often, the minimum of 1 hour of ground and 1 hour of flight instruction every 2 years during a Flight Review is typically not sufficient.
- If you are ever involved in an FAA action, being an active participant in the Wings program will work in your favor. It shows the FAA that you are a concerned about safety and your own proficiency.
- Some insurance carriers give discounts on their rates for pilots that are active participants in the Wings program.
- You get a set of wings from the FAA each time you advance to a new level. The only way to obtain these wings is to earn them.
- Completing a Wings level satisfies the requirement for a flight review, this is documented in FAR 61.56 (e).
It’s very easy to complete a wings level. The full details are in AC 61-91H, but here is a quick summary. There are 20 Wings levels, and you can complete a maximum of one level per year. To earn an additional wings level in an airplane, you need to complete an FAA-sanctioned safety seminar (which you can even do online — see the links below) and a total of 3 hours of flight training including: stalls, slow flight, maneuvers, takeoffs, landings and instrument flight. Once you’ve completed the ground and flight training, complete the Wings Application Form and send it to your local FAA Flight Standards District Office.
The AOPA Air Safety Foundation has developed these online courses are FAA-approved as the required ground training for an additional Wings level. You’ll still need to get the required flight instruction in addition to completing one of these courses.
- SkySpotter: Pireps Made Easy – Created by pilots, for pilots, pireps are a great source of real-time, in-flight weather conditions-offering a "sneak peek" of what you'll encounter in flight. This course covers how to get, use, and give pireps to help you become a better SkySpotter!
- GPS for IFR operations – This course is designed for pilots who want a basic introduction to the use of GPS in the IFR system. It’s intended to provide the background pilots need to get the most from a receiver-specific course.
- GPS for VFR operations – This course offers a clear explanation of how the Global Positioning System (GPS) works and how you can use it to make your next VFR flight more efficient, enjoyable, and safe.
- Weather Wise: Thunderstorms and ATC – Discusses effective pilot-ATC communications and the weather-radar equipment that ATC can use to help pilots avoid convective activity. This knowledge will help pilots make sound decisions as pilot in command.
- Engine and Propeller – Learn about engine and propeller operation and maintenance. Many repairs can only be made by an airframe and powerplant mechanic, but an understanding of engine and propeller operation can help minimize dangerous wear and costly repairs.
- Weather Wise: Ceiling and Visibility – Most pilots don’t realize that low ceilings and restricted visibilities are aviation’s most deadly killers. With a little knowledge, you can minimize the risk these conditions pose.
- Mountain Flying – This course teaches pilots about the challenges of high-density-altitude operations, flight planning and performance considerations, mountain weather, and more.
- Mission: Possible - Navigating Today's Special Use Airspace – Information general aviation pilots need to know about military lights-out training.
- Runway Safety Program – Prevent runway incursions by studying the factors involved.
- Know Before You Go – Navigate today's changing airspace restrictions without incident.
- Say Intentions – How Air Traffic Control can help pilots with various in-flight problems.
- IFR Adventure: Rules To Live By – Good review of the regulations related to IFR flight by following a pilot through a realistic flight.
- Single-Pilot IFR – Useful techniques for managing a single-pilot IFR flight.
The AOPA Air Safety Foundation also has an information page on the Wings program.