Sport Pilot

Sport Pilot Training

The FAA Sport Pilot Rule was adopted in September of 2004.  The FAA and our professional organizations have worked to develop FAA flight examiners, instructors and inspectors.  The good news for most is that you will be able to earn your Sport Pilot Certificate in about twelve hours of instruction!  This certificate offers you the privilege of carrying a Passenger.

CFI Mike Lersbak (left) contragulates Charlie Brocksmith, 12 Day Sport Pilot

The sport pilot certificate is a relatively new pilot certification category created by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) specifically to address the desire of individuals wishing to fly aircraft primarily for recreational purposes. A sport pilot may only operate an aircraft during daylight hours (civil twilight).

As the staff and infrastructure are put in place for Sport Pilot, our network of Flight Centers, representatives and instructor associates are available to provide you with the professional flight training required.  Here is the informational link to the EAA Sport Pilot information center and here is the official FAA Sport Pilot Index

WPPA Ground School Training

The requirements to earn a pilot certificate in this category are aimed at teaching the core knowledge that individuals must understand and demonstrate in order to safely operate in the airspace system. By passing a knowledge (written) and practical (flight) test, a prospective sport pilot will demonstrate the proficiency necessary to operate a variety of aircraft safely.
Sport pilots will be limited to operating aircraft that meet the definition of a light sport. That includes aircraft in the following categories:

  • Airplanes (single-engine only)
  • Gliders
  • Lighter-than-air ships (airship or balloon)
  • Rotorcraft (gyroplane only)
  • Powered Parachutes
  • Weight-Shift control aircraft (e.g. trikes)

Doug Maas, SPIE (left) and Steve Brandon, CFI (right) congratulate new sport pilot after practical test in Tracy, California

A sport pilot applicant must:

  • Be a minimum of 16 years of age to become a student sport pilot (14 for glider)
  • Be 17 years of age before testing for a sport pilot certificate (16 for gliders).
  • Be able to read, write, and understand the English language.
  • Hold either a valid airman’s medical or a valid U.S. driver’s license as evidence of medical eligibility (provided you do not have an official denial or revocation of medical eligibility on file with FAA).

Medical Certification

To obtain a sport pilot certificate you must have either an FAA airman medical certificate or a current and valid U.S. driver’s license issued by a state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, a territory, a possession, or the Federal government, provided you do not have an official denial or revocation of medical eligibility on file with FAA.

You then must comply with the restrictions placed on whichever method you choose. For example, if you choose to use your driver’s license as your medical certificate, you must comply with all restrictions on that license. In addition, and this is very important, you must not act as a pilot- in-command of an aircraft if you know or have reason to know of any medical condition that would make you unable to operate the aircraft in a safe manner.

However, a pilot who has had his or her last medical “denied” or “revoked” by FAA will be required to obtain a special issuance medical (or alternative evidence of medical eligibility under a separate procedure being developed by FAA) before being allowed to base his or her medical fitness solely on driver’s license requirements.

Restrictions on a sport pilot certificate:

  • No flights into Class A airspace, which is at or over 18,000′ MSL;
  • No flights into Class B, C, or D airspace unless you receive training and a logbook endorsement;
  • No flights outside the U.S. without advance permission from that country
  • No sightseeing flights with passengers for charity fund raisers;
  • No flights above 10,000′ MSL;
  • Daytime flight only; no night flights
  • No flights when the flight or surface visibility is less than 3 statute miles;
  • No flights unless you can see the surface of the earth for flight reference;
  • No flights if the operating limitations issued with the aircraft do not permit that activity;
  • No flights contrary to any limitation listed on the pilot’s certificate, U.S. driver’s license, FAA medical certificate, or logbook endorsement(s).
  • No flights while carrying a passenger or property for compensation or hire (no commercial operations);
  • No renting a light-sport aircraft unless it was issued a “special” airworthiness certificate;
    any qualified and current pilot (recreational pilot or higher) may fly a light-sport aircraft;
  • A light-sport aircraft may be flown at night if it is properly equipped for night flight and flown by an individual with a private pilot (or higher) certificate who has a current and valid FAA airman’s medical certificate.

How will it make flying easier/more hassle-free for me?

New pilots seeking a sport pilot certificate will be able to learn how to fly powered aircraft (fixed-wing airplanes, weight-shift trikes, powered parachutes, gyroplanes, or airships) in as little as 12 hours of flight instruction, saving both time and money. (Note: Your flight instructor will make the final determination as to your readiness to take a practical flight exam.)

Student pilots currently working on a private pilot certificate will be able to apply their training toward a sport pilot certificate and operate under sport pilot privileges until such time as they choose to complete the requirements for a private pilot rating. All time logged as a sport pilot can be applied toward higher ratings.

Private pilots or higher with a current medical certificate and flight review can fly any light-sport aircraft in the categories and classes for which they are rated, creating more opportunities for them to own or rent light-sport aircraft.

Private pilots or higher may also choose to exercise the privileges of a sport pilot and operate any sport-pilot eligible aircraft in the categories or classes in which they are rated using their valid driver’s license or third-class medical as their medical certification.

If I become a sport pilot, what can I fly?

An aircraft that meets the definition of a light-sport aircraft may hold an airworthiness certificate in any one of the following categories of FAA certification:

  • An experimental aircraft, including amateur-built aircraft, for which the owner must construct more than 51-percent of the aircraft.
  • A Standard category aircraft; that is, a ready-to-fly aircraft that is type-certificated in accordance with FAR Part 43.
  • A Primary category aircraft; that is, a ready-to-fly aircraft that is type-certificated in accordance with Primary category regulations.
  • A special light-sport aircraft
  • An experimental light-sport aircraft.


*This curriculum outlines the entire sport pilot program.  These course hours are for student/instructor guidance only and are presented as the minimum requirement for sport pilot training requirements.  Actual time is typically higher.


Module 1: First FlightsLearn to Fly
1 Introductory 1 Program Overview .5
2 Ground Taxi 1 Aerodynamics 1
3 Canopy Kiting 1 Operation of Systems 1
4 Take off and Landings 1 Weather/ADM 1
5 First Solo .5 .5 Stage 1  Pre solo Written Test .5
6 Precision Solo .5 .5 Aeromedical, ADM 1
7 Precision Solo 1 Limits, Regulations 1
Module 2: Flight Maneuvers and Knowledge to Sport Pilot
8 Maneuvers 1.5 1 Performance & Emergencies 1
9 Takeoff and Landings, Airports, Gross Weight Operations 1.5 Airspace/Airport Operations .5
10 Cross Country & Solo Endorse 1 Cross Country Planning 1
11 XC Diversion & Solo XC 1 Enroute weather 1
Module 3: Tutor for Sport Pilot Practical Test .5
Stage 3FAA Written Test
12 Mock Ground Test for Practical Mock Ground Test 1.5
13 Mock Flight Test 1 Mock Flight Briefing .5
TOTALS 10 4 12