Sport pilot license is a newly introduced license
in 2005 and allows aviation enthusiasts to fulfill their passion
of flying at half the cost. Unfortunately, information related
to that is harder to come by and is not very clear. Let me make
an attempt to clarify this.
Definition of Sport Aircrafts (or Light Sport Aircraft
A plane that meet the following requirement:
A maximum takeoff weight of not more than
660 pounds (300 kilograms) for lighter-than-air
1,320 pounds (600 kilograms) for aircraft
not intended for operation on water; or
1,430 pounds (650 kilograms) for an aircraft
intended for operation on water.
A maximum airspeed in level flight of not
more than 120 knots in standard conditions.
A maximum never-exceed speed of not more
than 120 knots CAS for a glider.
A maximum stalling speed or minimum steady
flight speed without the use of lift-enhancing devices of
not more than 45 knots CAS at the aircraft's maximum certificated
takeoff weight and most critical center of gravity.
A maximum seating capacity of no more than
two persons, including the pilot.
A single, reciprocating engine, if powered.
A fixed or ground-adjustable propeller if
a powered aircraft other than a powered glider.
A fixed or autofeathering propeller system
if a powered glider.
A fixed-pitch, semi-rigid, teetering, two-blade
rotor system, if a gyroplane.
A nonpressurized cabin, if equipped with
Fixed landing gear, except for an aircraft
intended for operation on water or a glider.
Fixed or repositionable landing gear, or
a hull, for an aircraft intended for operation on water.
Fixed or retractable landing gear for a glider.
Requirements for getting sport pilot license
Medical - US driver's license is
enough. No need to go for 3rd class medical certificate.
Age, language, and pilot certificate requirements
Be at least 17 years old (or 16 years old
if you are applying to operate a glider or balloon).
Be able to read, speak, write, and understand
English. If you cannot read, speak, write, and understand
English because of medical reasons, the FAA may place limits
on your certificate as are necessary for the safe operation
of light-sport aircraft.
Aeronautical knowledge - Receive
and log ground training from an authorized instructor or complete
a home-study course on the following aeronautical knowledge areas:
Applicable regulations of this chapter that
relate to sport pilot privileges, limits, and flight operations.
Accident reporting requirements of the National
Transportation Safety Board.
Use of the applicable portions of the aeronautical
information manual and FAA advisory circulars.
Use of aeronautical charts for VFR navigation
using pilotage, dead reckoning, and navigation systems, as
Recognition of critical weather situations
from the ground and in flight, windshear avoidance, and the
procurement and use of aeronautical weather
reports and forecasts.
Safe and efficient operation of aircraft,
including collision avoidance, and recognition and avoidance
of wake turbulence.
Effects of density altitude on takeoff
and climb performance.
Weight and balance computations.
Principles of aerodynamics, powerplants,
and aircraft systems.
Stall awareness, spin entry, spins, and
spin recovery techniques, as applicable.
Aeronautical decision making and risk management.
Preflight actions that include—
How to get information on runway lengths
at airports of intended use, data on takeoff and landing
distances, weather reports and forecasts, and fuel requirements;
How to plan for alternatives if the
planned flight cannot be completed or if you encounter
Flight proficiency requirements -
Receive and log ground and flight training from an authorized
instructor on the following areas of operation, as appropriate,
for airplane single-engine land or sea, glider, gyroplane, airship,
balloon, powered parachute land or sea, and weight-shift-control
aircraft land or sea privileges:
Airport, seaplane base, and gliderport operations,
Takeoffs (or launches), landings, and go-arounds.
Performance maneuvers, and for gliders, performance
Ground reference maneuvers (not applicable
to gliders and balloons).
Soaring techniques (applicable only to gliders).
Slow flight (not applicable to lighter-than-air
aircraft and powered parachutes).
Stalls (not applicable to lighter-than-air
aircraft, gyroplanes, and powered parachutes).
Aeronautical experience -
Total - 20 hours
Flight training - 15 hours
Solo - 5 hours
Dual cross country - 2 hours
Solo cross country - 1 hours
rep - 3 hours
What Are The Sport Pilot Privileges And
You can only fly when visibility is 3 miles
You can carry a passenger
You can fly in class E and G airspace
You can fly aircraft that meet the definition
of light-sport aircraft (LSA)
You cannot fly for compensation or hire
You can not fly above 10,000 ft
You can not fly at night
You cannot tow any object
How much does it cost and why?
Approximate costs = $3,500
Training requirement is 50% of private pilot
e.g. total hours for LSA is 20 hr vs 40 hrs for private pilot.
Cost of operating the plane is much less
than regular planes like Cessna 172 or Piper etc. However,
I have seen that flying clubs charge almost equal to what
Cessna will cost for flying. Not to discredit them completely,
we have to realize that all thes eplanes are relatively new
and thus their is higher investment in buying them compared
to 1967 Cessna 152 that I fly (costs < $20,000).
Few schools for getting your Sport Pilot
Given that this license category was created only
in 2005, there are very few instructors and schools. Contact us
if you know of a good school and we will add them here.
Note: Please refer to FAA FAR/AIM requirements
for exact specifications as any change in them may not be reflected
here. Also, above document is not reflective to exact rules and
regulations as it has been modified to make it easier to consume.
Related Books on Sport Pilot