Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Learn to Fly: A Practical Guide

Today, it’s easier than ever to fulfill your dream of flying

Sport Pilot: An Affordable Option

The FAA introduced the sport-pilot certificate in 2004 after a great deal of lobbying and hard work by the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA). The idea was to address the "barriers of entry" that the FAA says block many people from becoming pilots. The sport-pilot certificate targets the cost and time prohibitions inherent in the Private pilot certificate. Since it was introduced, the light-sport (LSA) category of aircraft (two seats or less and weight 1,320 pounds or less) has blossomed into a bright spot in the aviation industry.

The sport-pilot certificate is designed for people who want to experience flight but don't need or want to progress further, though the hours flown as a sport pilot do count toward other ratings and certificates. The private certificate requires students to build 40 hours minimum flight time, made up of different types of flying: solo hours, night hours, cross-country, etc. FAA studies show that most pilots earn their private certificate in an average of 65-70 hours nationwide. This is mostly due to today's more complex airspace, regulations and cockpit technology.

In addition to the flight training hours, private certificate students can expect to spend some 200 hours in ground instruction and private study in order to pass the FAA knowledge exam. The sport-pilot certificate requires a total of only 20 hours of flight time. Light-sport aircraft use less fuel than traditional training aircraft due to their smaller engines, so they're cheaper to operate and rent. The knowledge requirements are lower, too, due to less complexity, so training and study times are reduced in comparison. According to the FAA, national training times average 30 hours for the sport-pilot certificate.

There's no formal medical certificate required for Sport pilots. As long as you have a valid driver's license and the DMV says you can drive, you can fly.

The most compelling reason to earn the sport certificate is if you just want to fly for the love of flying. Many have no desire to get advanced ratings Studies show that most general aviation is flown alone or with a single passenger. For those reasons, the sport-pilot certificate is a great invitation to join the ranks of aviators at a fraction of the cost.


Add Comment