Max Trescott wrote a comment in response to my recent entry about my flight review that pointed out some of the benefits of the FAA Wings program. He wrote, "I'm glad the instructor didn't spin your plane! That would be a violation of the FARs unless:
1) You were both wearing parachutes or
2) You were receiving flight instruction for a certificate or rating which requires a spin demonstrate (which would be only the CFI rating).
An alternative to a Flight Review is the FAA Wings program, which eliminates the 1 hour of ground, saving you time and money. Details are at www.faasafety.gov".
As I pointed out in the prior entry, I used the FAA Wings program two years ago in lieu of a BFR. The program has changed slightly since then, but it still requires three flight instruction "credits". In the past, it required three hours of dual instruction. Now it requires three flight instruction "credits". It also requires three knowledge credits of instruction which the AOPA says can be fulfilled by using their online ASF Safety courses (yet another benefit of AOPA membership!)
The FAA believes that "the most significant incentive to participating pilots is the added level of safety and professionalism that is obtained through adoption of a consistent recurrent training program." (Quoted from the www.faasafety.gov website.
I agree with the FAA. Although Max suggests that another benefit is that FAA Wings is that it saves you time and money. I don't see it that way. While there is no charge for the online courses from the AOPA, there is certainly a time requirement. Furthermore, the three flight instruction credits will undoubtedly take more than the minimum one hour of flight time required for a flight review. Therefore, I do not think the benefits of FAA Wings are financial.
The FAA encourages pilots to use the Wings program to maintain an ongoing personal proficiency program rather than simply conducting a flight review every 24 calendar months. In the past, I flew every week, but these days, it is more like every month - and maintaining my instrument currency is a challenge, but I manage to do it. Engaging in a one hour flight instruction every three or four months would be a good way to earn my next level of FAA Wings while maintaining my flying skill.
Thanks for your comment, Max.