Frequently Asked Questions
Most Popular Questions
No. It is not particularly difficult. As a beginning student pilot, you will do most of the actual flying (handling the controls of the aircraft).
Immediately. However, you will need to apply for certain certificates, as described by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in preparation for solo flight.
A well-built and maintained aircraft, flown by a competent and prudent pilot, makes flying as safe or safer than many other forms of transportation.
Modern aircraft engines are very reliable, and complete engine failure is a rare occurrence. If the improbable does happen, you will not “fall out of the sky.” Just do what the instructor had you practice during lessons— select a good landing area and land.
The specific aeronautical experience requirements are outlined in the FAA, Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) part 61. For the student pilot certificate requirements, refer to subpart C section 83.
No. The instructor will not allow you to solo until you have learned to perform certain maneuvers. These maneuvers include safe takeoffs and landings.
You must be able to maintain positive control of the aircraft at all times and to use good judgment.
Your flight instructor will determine that you are familiar with appropriate portions of 14 CFR part 61, the general and visual flight rules of 14 CFR part 91, and will administer and grade a presolo written test prior to solo endorsement. The presolo written test will also include questions on the flight characteristics and operational limitations of the make and model aircraft to be flown.
Student pilot must have a first solo endorsement dated within 90 days prior to any solo flight.
An applicant must be at least 15 years of age to take the test, although applicants for the balloon or glider tests must be 14 years of age. Prior to taking the knowledge test, an applicant shall be asked to present a birth certificate or other official documentation as evidence of meeting the age requirement.
You are limited to flying an aircraft that meets the definition of a light- sport aircraft (LSA). An LSA is any certificated aircraft that meets the following performance parameters:
1,320 pounds Maximum Gross Weight (1,430 pounds for seaplanes)
45 knots (51 mph) Max Landing Configuration Stall
120 knots (138 mph) Max. Straight & Level
Single or Two seat Aircraft
Fixed Pitch or Ground Adjustable Propeller
Fixed Landing Gear (except for amphibious aircraft)
Sport pilots cannot make flights at night;
An controlled airspace unless you receive training and a logbook endorsement;
Outside the U.S. without advance permission from that country(ies);
For the purpose of sight-seeing with passengers for charity fundraisers;
Above 10,000′ MSL;
When the flight or surface visibility is less than 3 statute miles;
unless you can see the surface of the Earth for flight reference;
In LSA with a maximum speed in level flight with maximum continuous power (V h) of greater than 87 knots (100 mph), unless you receive training and a logbook endorsement;
If the operating limitations issued with the aircraft do not permit that activity;
contrary to any limitation listed on the pilot’s certificate, U.S. driver’s license, FAA medical certificate, or logbook endorsement(s); and while carrying a passenger or property for compensation or hire (no commercial operations).
To adequately prepare for the knowledge test, your instructor should review with you:
(1) 14 CFR part 61, section 97 (if preparing for the recreational pilot knowledge test);
(2) 14 CFR part 61, section 105 (if preparing for the private pilot knowledge test); or
(3) 14 CFR part 61, section 309 (if preparing for the sport pilot knowledge test).
The regulations require an applicant to have logged ground training from an authorized instructor, or to present evidence of having satisfactorily completed a course of instruction or home-study course in the knowledge areas appropriate to the category and class aircraft for the rating sought.
An applicant for a knowledge test must present appropriate personal identification. The identification must include a photograph of the applicant, the applicant’s signature, and the applicant’s actual residential address (if different from the mailing address). This information may be presented in more than one form. The applicant must also present one of the following:
(1) A certificate of graduation from an FAA-approved pilot school or pilot training course appropriate to the certificate or rating sought, or a statement of accomplishment from the school certifying the satisfactory completion of the ground-school portion of such a course.
(2) A written statement or logbook endorsement from an FAA-Certificated Ground or Flight Instructor, certifying that the applicant has satisfactorily completed an applicable ground training or home-study course and is prepared for the knowledge test.
(3) A certificate of graduation or statement of accomplishment from a ground-school course appropriate to the certificate or rating sought conducted by an agency, such as a high school, college, adult education program, the Civil Air Patrol, or an ROTC Flight Training Program.
(4) A certificate of graduation from a home-study course developed by the aeronautical enterprise providing the study material. The certificate of graduation must correspond to the FAA knowledge test for the certificate or rating sought. The aeronautical enterprise providing the course of study must also supply a comprehensive knowledge test, which can be scored as evidence that the student has completed the course of study. When the student satisfactorily completes the knowledge test, it is sent to the course provider for scoring by an FAA-Certificated Ground or Flight Instructor.
The instructor personally evaluates the test and attests to the student’s knowledge of the subjects presented in the course. Upon satisfactory completion, a graduation certificate is sent to the student.
(5) In the event of retesting after a failure, the applicant must present the unsatisfactory Airman Test Report. If the applicant elects to retest for a higher score, the satisfactory Airman Test Report must be surrendered to the test administrator.
Prior to solo flight.
Student pilot certificates may be issued by an FAA Inspector or an FAA- Designated Pilot Examiner. Upon your request, a combination medical certificate and student pilot certificate will be issued by an FAA-Authorized Aviation Medical Examiner upon the satisfactory completion of your physical examination. Applicants who fail to meet certain requirements or who have physical disabilities, which might limit, but not prevent, their acting as pilots should contact their local FSDO.
Sport pilot applicants who intend to fly without attaining a medical, but who will fly on the basis of a valid driver’s license will only get a student pilot certificate issued by an FAA Inspector or FAA-Designated Pilot
The specific aeronautical experience requirements are outlined in 14 CFR part 61.
(1) 14 CFR 61, subpart J, section 313 for the sport pilot certificate requirements.
(2) 14 CFR part 61, subpart D, section 99 for the recreational pilot certificate requirements.
(3) 14 CFR part 61, subpart E, section 109 for the private pilot certificate requirements.
Yes. An applicant must provide an airworthy aircraft with equipment relevant to the AREAS OF OPERATION required for the practical test.
The applicant will be asked to present:
(1) FAA Form 8710-1(8710.11 for sport pilot applicants), Application for an Airman Certificate and/or Rating, with the flight instructor’s recommendation;
(2) an Airman Test Report with a satisfactory grade;
(3) a medical certificate (not required for glider or balloon), and a student pilot certificate endorsed by a flight instructor for solo, solo cross-country (airplane and rotorcraft), and for the make and model aircraft to be used for the practical test. (Drivers license or medical certificate for sport pilot applicants);
(4) the pilot log book records; and
(5) a graduation certificate from an FAA-approved school (if applicable).
The applicant will be asked to produce and explain the:
(1) aircraft’s registration certificate;
(2) aircraft’s airworthiness certificate;
(3) aircraft’s operating limitations or FAA-approved aircraft flight manual
(4) aircraft equipment list;
(5) required weight and balance data;
(6) maintenance records; and
(7) applicable Airworthiness Directives.
If a detailed explanation of the required pilot maneuvers and performance standards is desired, refer to either the sport pilot, recreational pilot, or private pilot practical test standards.
An applicant must be 17 years of age. Although, applicants for the private pilot glider or free balloon rating may be 16 years of age.
14 CFR part 61 establishes the ground school and flight experience requirements for the recreational pilot certificate and private pilot certificate. However, your flight instructor can best determine when your qualified for the practical test. Your instructor should take you through a practice practical test.
Due to the varied responsibilities of the FSDOs, practical tests are given by pilot examiners designated by FSDOs. You should schedule your practical test by an appointment to avoid conflicts and wasted time. A list of examiner names can be obtained from your local FSDO.
Since an FAA-Designated Pilot Examiner serves without pay from the government for conducting practical tests and processing the necessary reports, the FAA-Designated Pilot Examiner is allowed to charge a reasonable fee. However, there is no charge for the practical test when conducted by an FAA Inspector.
Yes. After satisfactory completion of the private pilot practical test, the examiner will issue you a temporary airman certificate. This is a valid certificate that authorizes you to exercise the privileges of a private pilot with appropriate ratings and/or limitations. This is an interim certificate issued subject to the approval of the Federal Aviation Administration pending the issuance of your permanent certificate. You normally will receive your permanent certificate within 120 days.
No. There is no charge for any original certificate issued by the FAA.
However, fees will be charged by the FAA-Authorized Aviation Medical Examiner for the medical examination and by the FAA-Designated Pilot Examiner for conducting the practical test. The FAA does charge to replace any pilot or medical certificate.