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The Sport Pilot License is designed for the recreational pilot and is
a lighter and more affordable option than the Private Pilot License.
If your ambition is to fly Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) or small single-engine
propeller aircraft on fair weather days, then Sport Pilot Training is for you.

Search 228 Sport Pilot Schools

To introduce you to the world of sport pilot flying, and to help you better understand the benefits and limitations of this license, we have created this quick guide to training for a sport pilot license (SPL).

The sport pilot license offers an easier and more affordable way to start flying for fun and recreation. In the United States the license was first introduced in 2004 but other countries have had their own versions for longer than this. Click Here to Read Full Article (...)

Recognising that many recreational pilots never intend to use the full privileges of a private pilot’s license (PPL), a license with a few more restriction was created to lower the training cost and minimize the training requirements. Think of the sport pilot license as a certificate that will allow you to exercise the core of the flying you want to do – daytime and in nice weather – without the added cost associated with additional training procedures you are less likely to use.

Sport Pilot Training Requirements

For simplicity, the information listed below covers the minimum training requirements for the FAA sport pilot license. Requirements in other countries may vary slightly and we have included some basic information for Canada and Europe towards the bottom of this article. Listed by aircraft category the flight training requirements are:

  • Airplane: 20 hours
  • Glider: 10 hours
  • Rotorcraft (gyroplane only): 20 hours
  • Powered Parachute: 12 hours
  • Weight-Shift-Control (Trikes): 20 hours
  • Lighter-Than-Air: 20 hours for airship and 7 hours for balloon

A student pilot must be at least 16 years old (14 for gliders) and 17 years old to hold the full sport pilot license (16 for gliders). In most countries you will also need a basic medical check or a declaration from your doctor as evidence of medical eligibility. In the United States a current and valid U.S. Driver’s license is sufficient provided you have not previously been denied (or had revoked or suspended) an FAA medical certificate. If you do not hold a U.S. Driver’s license, you can use an FAA third class medical certificate to establish medical fitness.

After completing your sport pilot training you will need to pass a knowledge test and a practical test (check-ride) to be issued a sport pilot license.

General Limitations

A sport pilot license is restricted to flying during daylight hours and in good weather and visibility. You are also restricted to flying domestically in the country that issued the license and no additional privileges (ratings), such as flying at night or in the clouds, can be added to the license. The SPL also restricts you to carrying only one passenger per flight.

Airplane Limitations

The SPL – Airplane will allow you to fly airplanes classified as Light-Sport Aircraft (LSA). LSA aircraft is defined as a simple-to-operate, easy-to-fly aircraft that, since its initial certification, has continued to meet the following performance definitions.

  • Maximum takeoff weight: 1,320lbs (1,430 for seaplanes)
  • Maximum stall speed: 45 knots (51mph)
  • Maximum speed in level flight: 120 knots (138 mph)
  • One or two-person occupancy (pilot + one passenger)
  • Single, reciprocating engine
  • Fixed landing gear
  • Fixed (or ground adjustable) pitch propeller
  • Unpressurized cabin

A sport pilot with airplane privileges can fly any fixed-wing aircraft that meets this definition. Gliders, Rotorcraft, Powered Parachutes, Trikes, Balloons and Airships are also classified as Light-Sport Aircraft.

Sport Pilot Flying in Other Countries

Canada – The Canadian equivalent of the SPL is called a Recreational Pilot Permit (RPP) and comes either as RPP – Aeroplane or RPP – Helicopter. Additionally, Canada has separate licenses for Glider Pilot, Balloon Pilot and Passenger-Carrying Ultra-light. In Canada you are allowed to fly a four-place (does that mean four-seat) aircraft on an RPP but still with only one passenger carried on a flight. Training requirements for an RPP – Aeroplane is 25 hours (minimum 15 with an instructor and 5 solo) and the applicant must be at least 16 years of age. What are the mins for RPP – Helicopter?

Europe (EASA) – The European equivalent of the SPL is called a Light Aircraft Pilot License (LAPL) and is issued for Aeroplanes/TMG*, Helicopters, Sailplanes [gliders] and Balloons. The minimum training requirements for an EASA LAPL are for Aeroplanes (30 hours), Helicopters (40 hours), Sailplanes (15 hours) and Balloons (16 hours). Applicants must be at least 16 years of age for sailplanes and balloons and 17 years of age for aeroplanes and helicopters.

*TMG stands for Touring Motor Glider and is a self-launching motor glider that can turn off the engine to soar. A TMG takes off and lands with the engine running and therefore fits in the aeroplane category.

Who should consider the Sport Pilot License?

Anyone who wants to learn how to fly for only recreational purposes and is seeking a more affordable option to getting a full Private Pilot License. The majority of recreational General Aviation flying is done during daylight hours and in fair weather, and many of the ‘typical’ general aviation aircraft on the market fit into the Light-Sport Aircraft category. If this sounds like something for you then get in touch with the Sport Pilot Schools listed on this website to find out how you can start your sport pilot training.

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