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Sport Pilot License

Sport Pilot License

A pilot's license is similar to a driver's license that is issued to you by your state government.

The main difference is that the federal government governs pilot privileges and requires specific flight experience, a knowledge (written) test, and a practical (flight) test to earn a pilot's license (called a certificate).

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the agency that will issue you your pilot's license, is within the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Flying an airplane is more complex than driving a car because you are controlling altitude (up and down) in addition to left-right movement. It is also more exhilarating because you have the freedom of three-dimensional movement, greater speed, and unbelievable panoramas. Flying provides lifelong satisfaction and pride.

Learning to fly and earning your pilot certificate is fun. Begin today!

Federal Aviation Administration

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has just recently approved something known as the Sport Pilot rule, which allows you to now obtain a sport pilot license in lieu of a private pilot license.

The sport pilot rule:

  • Creates a new student sport pilot certificate
  • Creates a new sport pilot flight instructor certificate.
  • Requires FAA knowledge (written) and practical (flight) test.
  • Credits ultralight training and experience toward a sport pilot certificate providing the ultralight pilot transitions to a sport pilot certificate by 31 January 2007.
  • Credits sport pilot flight time toward more advanced pilot ratings.
  • Requires either a 3rd class FAA medical certificate or a current and valid U.S. driver's license as evidence of medical eligibility (provided the individual's most recent application for an FAA medical certificate was not denied, revoked, suspended or withdrawn).
  • Does not allow carrying passengers for compensation or hire
  • Does not allow flights in furtherance of business
  • Allows sharing ("pro-rata") operating expenses with another pilot.
  • Allows daytime flight only.
  • Allow sport pilots to fly vintage and production aircraft (standard airworthiness certificate) that meet the definition of a light-sport aircraft.

What's so good about this rule and why might you consider pursuing the former? Let's find out, check out the UPSIDE.

The Upside

  • First, a sport pilot license doesn't require that you have an FAA issued third-class medical certificate.It only requires that you have a valid U.S.drivers license without having an official denial or revocation of an FAA medical certificate on file with the FAA. This means if you have a drivers license then the FAA considers you medically qualified to fly as a sport pilot in a sport airplane.
  • Second, the sport pilot license requires only 20 hours of flight time in preparation for your license compared to 40 hours minimum preparation for a private pilot certificate. This means you'll meet the sport pilot license requirement with as little as 15 hours of dual instruction from a certified flight instructor and five hours solo flight time. While a written (knowledge) test and a practical flight test are still required for the sport license, there's no doubt that you'll dramatically reduce the cost of learning to fly, perhaps as much as 60% as compared to that for private pilot licensing.
  • As a sport pilot you're limited to flying a single- or two-place light sport aircraft during daylight hours and you can't ever carry more than one passenger.
  • There are other limitations but these are the most relevant ones. Now, this isn't necessarily a big downside. As a general rule, most folks only fly with one person at a time anyway. And while flying at night is an aesthetic experience, you'd be surprised how little night flying most pilots really do. Nevertheless, these are limitations to be considered.

What planes can I fly?

The following are six categories of light sport aircraft (LSA): airplane, glider, rotocraft lighter-than-air (balloon or airship), powered parachute and weight shift control.

In the airplane category of light sport aircraft (the one I'm assuming that you're interested in flying), the airplane must weigh less than 1,320 pounds and have a top speed of no more than 120 knots (138 mph).

It can have no more than two seats and fixed landing gear (meaning that the gear isn't broken, but that it can't be retracted in flight for less drag, which means more speed).

There are other requirements but these are the important ones.

The Sport Pilot rule:

  • Allow sport pilots to fly existing aircraft (standard airworthiness certificate) that meet the definition of a light-sport aircraft.
  • Creates a new student sport pilot certificate for operating any aircraft that meet the definition of a light-sport aircraft.
  • Creates a new sport pilot flight instructor certificate.
  • Requires FAA knowledge (written) and practical (flight) test.
  • Credits ultralight training and experience toward a sport pilot certificate.
  • Credits sport pilot flight time toward more advanced pilot ratings.
  • Requires either a 3rd class FAA medical certificate or a current and valid U.S. driver's license as evidence of medical eligibility (provided the individual does not have an official denial or revocation of medical eligibility on file with FAA).
  • Does not allow carrying passengers for compensation or hire
  • Allows sharing ("pro-rata") operating expenses with another pilot.
  • Allows daylight (civil twilight) flight only.

In just two years, the sport pilot/light-sport aircraft community has grown to be a significant and promising part of the general aviation picture. The past year, in particular, showed the potential within this new area of recreational flight.

Over more than a decade of direct involvement and leadership on the rule, EAA sees the two-year anniversary of what's commonly known as the "sport pilot rule" as a point of celebration and renewed motivation to continue building access for those who wish to participate.

The past year was a remarkable one in terms of the sport pilot/light-sport aircraft community's growth," said Earl Lawrence, EAA's vice president of industry and regulatory affairs, who also chairs the ASTM International committee that created the consensus standards for light-sport aircraft.EAA's annual review regarding sport pilot/light-sport aircraft comes as interest in this new area of flying has met and surpassed the anticipated levels.

The number of new, ready-to-fly airplanes available to sport pilots has blossomed in the past year," Lawrence said. "There are more instructors, more training facilities and more opportunities than expected after two years under the new rule. Although much work remains to be done in a number of fronts, sport pilot offers a way to increase current participation in aviation. Even more importantly, it creates an entryway for those interested in outdoor recreation to consider aviation as a safe, affordable, fun and fulfilling pursuit.

On numerous occasions, FAA Administrator Marion Blakey has specifically praised EAA for its work in developing the sport pilot/light-sport aircraft community as a way to build interest in recreational aviation. Administrator Blakey remains a staunch supporter of this rule and its potential to create more flying opportunities nationwide.

A sport pilot may exercise flight privileges in one or more of the following aircraft categories:

  • Airplane (single-engine only)
  • Glider
  • Lighter-than-air (airship or balloon)
  • Rotorcraft (gyroplane only)
  • Powered Parachute
  • Weight-Shift control aircraft(e.g. Trikes)

What are the basic "qualifications" for getting a pilots license?

The fundamental qualifications for becoming a sport pilot are quite simple.

Remember, the main idea behind the sport pilot movement is to open up the exciting world of recreational aviation to many more enthusiasts.

We love aviation and want to share that joy with you and many others!

Accordingly, the qualifications are modest:

  • At least 17 years of age
  • Valid state driver's license
  • Proficient in the English language
  • Be able to affirm general good health and not using substances or medications that impede judgment, cognition, or motor skills
Why learn to fly?
Escape Escape from the two dimensional world. Flying takes you to a different world with new perspectives. Suddenly, distances shrink and your perspectives change. You start thinking of your world from above. Your senses are in tune to the world of flight, no longer limited by your cares, concerns and duties on the ground. Become a pilot and escape to a different world.
Explore Explore new places. Learning to fly frees you to explore the world – from 50 miles to 500 miles. The distance is your decision. Become a pilot and expand your horizons.
Experience Experience a feeling of freedom, and accomplishment. Learning to fly will transform your life. It immerses you in new sensations and allows you to conquer exciting challenges. It changes how you perceive yourself and what you know you can accomplish. Become a pilot and transform yourself.

How to Become a Sport Pilot
If a Registered Ultralight Pilot
On or Before September 01, 2004

  • Meet Medical and Eligibility
  • On or Before January 31, 2007 - Credit for Aeronautical Knowledge, Proficiency, and Experience Requirements
  • Provide a Certified Copy of Records From An FAA Recognized Ultralight Organization (List Specific Category and Classes Seeking)
  • Pass an FAA Sport Pilot Knowledge Test
  • Pass an FAA Sport Pilot Practical Test
  • Sport Pilot Certificate Issued (All Category and Class Privileges Endorsed in Logbook)

If you are a Registered Ultralight Instructor
On or Before September 1, 2004

  • Hold at Least a Sport Pilot Certificate
  • On or Before January 31, 2008, Meet Aeronautical Experience-Minimum Total Flight Time Only
  • Provide a Certified Copy of Records From An FAA Recognized Ultralight Organization (List All Category and Class Seeking)
  • Provide a Certified Copy F.O.I. Knowledge Test
  • Pass an FAA Sport Pilot CFI Knowledge Test
  • Pass an FAA Sport Pilot CFI Practical Test (All Category and Class Privileges Endorsed in Logbook)
  • CFI Certificate with Sport Pilot Rating Issued

MEDICAL REQUIREMENTS FOR SPORT PILOT
(14 CFR part 61.23/53/303)
A Medical or U.S. Driver's License
(Other Than Balloon or Glider)

  • A Student Pilot Seeking Sport Pilot Privileges in a Light-sport Aircraft
  • A Pilot Exercising the Privileges of a Sport Pilot Certificate
  • A Flight Instructor Acting As PIC of a Light-sport Aircraft

A Person Using a Current and Valid U.S. Driver's License Must

  • Comply With Each Restriction and Limitation Imposed on Your Drivers License
  • Comply With Any Judicial or Administrative Order Applying To The Operation of a Motor Vehicle
  • Not Have Been Denied Your Most Recent Application For A Medical Certificate (If You Have Applied for Medical Certificate)
  • Not Have Your Most Recently Issued Medical Certificate Suspended or Revoked (If You Have Been Issued A Medical Certificate)
  • Not Had Your Most Recent Authorization for a Special Issuance of a Medical Certificate Withdrawn (A Special Issuance Is Not A Denial)
  • A Person Using a Valid Medical or Current and Valid U.S. Driver's License Must
  • Not know or have reason to know of any medical condition that would make that person unable to operate a light-sport aircraft in a safe manner

Once I've learned to fly, where can I fly?

Once you've achieved your sport pilot certificate, you'll likely find yourself exploiting every possible opportunity to get out and FLY!

You might plan an ambitious coast-to-coast trip, hopping your way across the country through clear-weather routes. Maybe you'll fly away with a friend for a weekend getaway or spend a few hours practicing at the local airport. Or maybe you'll take in scenic vistas from above. Whatever the plan -- however simple or grandiose -- it will center on enjoying the world from a different perspective, and feeling the exhilaration, freedom, and satisfaction of flying an aircraft yourself.

With a Sport Pilot's license, your recreational flying itinerary is sky-wide open. You can go where you want, when you want, at more then twice the speed of an automobile. Zoom around a spell. Create your own shortcut. Get the heck out of Dodge. Imagine taking friends and family on trips; skiing, surfing, golfing, shopping. Imagine taking off after work for dinner two states away.

What are the Sport Pilot Privileges

  • Operate as pilot in command of a sport pilot eligible aircraft
  • Carry a passenger and share expenses (fuel, oil, airport expenses, and aircraft rental);
  • Fly during the daytime using visual flight rules (VFR). Three statute miles visibility and visual contact with the ground are required.
  • Cross-country flying anywhere in the U.S.
  • Fly up to 10,000 feet above mean sea level (MSL).
  • Fly solo or with one passenger.
  • Share operating expenses with another person.
  • Fly in Class E and G airspace (and B, C, and D airspace with appropriate training).
  • Allows sport pilots to fly production (standard airworthiness certificate) and experimental amateur-built aircraft that meet the definition of a light-sport aircraft.
  • Allows rental of special light-sport aircraft (S-LSA).