Pilot Proficiency Award Program

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The FAA's Pilot Proficiency Award Program (Wings) promotes air safety and encourages general aviation pilots to continue training and provides an opportunity to practice selected maneuvers in a minimum of instruction time. After you've logged three hours of dual instruction under the program and attended at least one FAA-sanctioned safety seminar, you’ll be eligible to receive a distinctive set of wings . You’ll also earn a certificate of completion. If you successfully complete a phase of the Wings Program within the period specified by Section 61.56(e) of the Federal Aviation Regulations, you don’t need to accomplish the otherwise required flight review for that time period.

No complimentary wings will be issued. Pilots, regardless of certificate type, ratings, or position, must earn the privilege of wearing the pilot proficiency wings.


To be eligible for the program, you must:

  • Hold an ultralight / recreational pilot certificate or higher
  • Hold a current medical certificate if required for the type of license type.
  • Complete at least one hour of ground training.
  • Attend at least one FAA-sanctioned safety seminar, or other approved course. This can be done by going to a designated safety meeting or completing one of several approved courses online, such as those offered by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.
  • Log dual flight instruction in specified maneuvers. The time required varies by category:


To apply for the Pilot Proficiency Award Program, send your application to your local FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) or simply visit the FAA Safety Website and sign up electronically.

Proficiency phases[edit]

Legacy program[edit]

Phase 1 pin (discontinued design)
Phase 2 pin (discontinued design)

As laid out in Advisory Circular 61-91H,[1] the program has twenty phases and offers you a twenty-year recurrent training opportunity. You’ll be eligible for more wings every year after earning your first set, each added set marking your progress.

From the program's inception in 1996 until 2007, each of the first 10 phases of the program award a pin, and a certificate.

  • Phase 1 wings are plain bronze tone.
  • Phase 2 wings are silver tone with a star added.
  • Phase 3 wings are gold tone with a star and wreath.
  • Phase 4 wings are gold tone and have a simulated ruby mounted in the shield.
  • Phase 5 wings are gold tone with a rhinestone mounted in the shield.
  • Phase 6 wings are gold tone with a simulated sapphire mounted in the shield.
  • Phase 7, 8, and 9 wings are gold tone with the appropriate Roman numeral displayed within the wreath.
  • Phase 10 wings are bright gold tone with the Roman numeral X and shield located within a ring of 10 stars.

Past phase 10, only a certificate is awareded.

Seaplane pilots who specify “seawings” on the proficiency award application get a distinctive set of seawings.

Program Updates[edit]

The new three pins offered by the FAA for the program

The original Wings program was updated in 2007.[2] It was replaced by a new program from the new FAA.[3] This new program attempts to provide better standards for pilots getting flight reviews and training, adding the most common causes of accidents into the curriculum and providing set standards for maneuvers, instead of giving a minimum flight time to complete.

While the FAA's does provide pins for completion of a level of the new Wings program under the updated program,[4] it has entered into a partnership with aviation insurer Avemco where is announced that Avemco will continue to sponsoring the WINGS Pilot Proficiency Program by supplying all WINGS participants with WINGS lapel pins upon program completion.[5] The FAA does however intend to keep track of a pilot's recurrent training and will be able to remind the pilot by e-mail if their training is close to expiring, requiring them to get a new flight review or complete another Wings course via a website link.

On 24 September 2010, the program was further updated to include specific recognition for those sea-rated pilots who complete a phase of WINGS in a seaplane or amphibian. The Seaplane Pilots Association agreed to send a lapel pin to these pilots, and some insurance companies have started to offer “significant premium discounts” to members of the Seaplane Pilots Association who complete a phase of WINGS in a seaplane.[6]


  1. ^ "Pilot Proficiency Award Program" (pdf). Federal Aviation Administration. April 26, 1996. 
  2. ^ FAA Website describing the changes
  3. ^ safety website
  4. ^ FAA on-line tutorial describing new program
  5. ^ Avemco press release[dead link] - AVEMCO ANNOUNCES SUPPORT FOR GENERAL AVIATION PROGRAMS FAA WINGS Program, AERI Research and Build A Plane to Benefit
  6. ^ FAASafety.gov - "Sea WINGS" notice

External links[edit]