Requirements to earn a Sport Pilot Certification:

Before a trainee can start the solo phase of flight training, a Student Sport Pilot Certificate must be issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). These may be obtained from an FAA Flight Standards District Office or FAA Designated Pilot Examiner.

To qualify for the Sport pilot certificate, an applicant must:

  • 1) Be at least 17 years of age
  • 2) Be able to read, speak, write, and understand English
  • 3) Log at least 20 hours of flight time of which at least
  • 4) 15 hours must be dual instruction with a qualified flight instructor
  • 5) 2 hours must be cross-country dual instruction
  • 6) 5 hours must be solo flight
  • 7) Fly one solo cross-country flight over a total distance of 75 or more nautical miles to two different destinations to a full-stop landing. At least one leg of this cross-country must be over a total distance of at least 25 nautical miles (46 km).
  • 8) Have received 3 hours of dual instruction in the preceding 60 days
  • 9) Pass a written test
  • 10) Pass a practical test
  • 11) Have a valid US State drivers license AND not been rejected for your last Airman Medical Certificate or have a current 3rd class or higher Airman Medical Certificate

The above requirements are for heavier-than-air powered aircraft (airplanes). The requirements for gliders, balloons, helicopters, and dirigibles vary slightly. Sport Pilots are only eligible to fly aircraft that are either certified specifically as light-sport aircraft (LSA) or were certified prior to the LSA regulations and are within the maximum weight and performance limitations of light-sport aircraft.

The restrictions placed on a Pilot exercising the privileges of a Sport pilot certificate are:

  • 1) No more than one passenger
  • 2) Daytime flight only (civil twilight is used to define day/night)
  • 3) No flight above 10,000 feet (3,000 m) MSL or 2,000 feet (610 m) AGL, whichever is higher
  • 4) Maximum Takeoff Weight of 1320 lbs, compared to 12500 lbs of the Private Pilot Certificate or the Recreational Pilot Certificate.
  • 5) No flight in any of the airspace classes that require radio communication (classes A, B, C, or D) without first obtaining additional instruction and instructor endorsement

The Sport pilot certificate is also ineligible for additional ratings (such as an Instrument rating), although time in light-sport aircraft can be used towards the experience requirement of other ratings on higher certificate types.