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Does the FAA recycle N numbers?

Posted By:
Judson Knowles
#1 Posted: 3/9/2010 13:02:17

I was looking for an airplane that my dad owned when I was a kid. I went to the N Number search tool and found a 1965 Aero Commander listed...  while we had a 1966 Citabria 7EC-a. The N number in question is N900RJ. I am not a pilot, but just wondering what happened to that plane. There are so many good memories associated with it. We lived in SoCal and kept it hangered in Chino. Circa 1976-1980. My dad passed away in 1980 and it was sold sometime around then.


Any info would be great!





Judson Knowles
Joe Norris
Vintage Aircraft Association MemberYoung Eagles Pilot or VolunteerHomebuilder or CraftsmanAirVenture Volunteer
#2 Posted: 3/11/2010 10:11:07

Hello Judson,

the FAA does indeed "recycle" N numbers.  When an aircraft is removed from the registry, or the N number is changed on an existing aircraft, the N number that was on the plane goes back into the "pool" to be reissued.  For example, my Cessna 180 was originally N4665B.  Sometime in the 70s the then-current owner changed the number to N20BR.  The old N number went back into the pool and was issued to a 1978 Cessna 152.  (I'm still trying to convince the owner of that aircraft to release the number back to me, but that's another story for another time.)

As for your dad's plane, if you have the serial number of the aircraft you can get the original records from the FAA.  If you have the serial number you can go to the FAA Aircraft Registration Branch Website and order a copy of the complete file on the aircraft.  This file will contain a full listing of all registered owners from when the aircraft is new until the most recent owner of record.  It will also include a complete file of airworthiness documents related to the aircraft. The cost for the CD containing these records is $10.

Good luck!


Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate
Judson Knowles
#3 Posted: 3/11/2010 10:33:37



Thank you for the information. I am searching though what photos are left. I am very doubtfull as to whether we have a picture of the airworthy cert or not....

But on the million to one chance anyone recognizes the details, please let me know...

1966 Citabria 7ECA


Was hangared in Chino, California 1976-1980 aprox

I will try to post a picture tonight or tomorrow.

Judson Knowles