The short answer is no. Once you have achieved the goal of becoming a pilot, your certification never expires. However, there are certain requirements you must meet to maintain currency and be eligible to fly.
If you want to have company on your flights, you are required to complete three take off and landing cycles, every 90 days, in the aircraft you plan to carry passengers. This requirement doesn’t have to be three separate events. They can be touch-and-go’s in one day. If you plan to only fly solo, then you only need to worry about your biennial flight review and medical certificate validity.
Biennial Flight Review
The FAA requires all pilots to have a biennial flight review every two years, conducted by a pilot examiner or flight instructor. You are required to have at least one hour of ground instruction and one hour of in-flight instruction. Generally, you must prove that your flight skills remain sharp by demonstrating multiple takeoffs/landings, handling stalls and basic maneuvers. If you conduct additional training to get a new certificate or rating, this can count as a flight review.
FAA Medical Certificate
There are varying levels of medical certificates dependent upon the type of flying you are doing. The third-class medical certificate that is required for private pilots mut be periodically renewed to stay current. If you are under 40, the certificate is good for 60 months and if you are over 40, it is good for 24 months. A second-class certificate is good for 12 months regardless of age, and a first-class medical certificate is good for 12 months if you are under 40 and six months if you are over 40. Only a third-class medical certificate is required to get a biennial flight review.
What happens if I haven’t done these things?
If you go for a long period of time without flying, that doesn’t mean you can’t get back into the cockpit. You may just need additional training prior to your biennial flight review to brush up your skills and get proficient once more. Sterling offers a rusty pilot package to get you flying again, which includes your BFR. If additional time is needed, that can be scheduled separately as well.
One of the greatest perks of flying is that once you have achieved your goals, provided you can maintain your medical and BFR, there is no limit to how much time you can enjoy in the sky!