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U.S. Rules and Regulations In Regard To Personal Rotorcraft.

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Eligibility Requirements for Sport Pilots

In order to be certificated ("licensed") as a Sport Pilot, an applicant must meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 17 years of age (16 for free balloons and gliders)
  • Possess a currently valid Airman Medical Certificate or a state-issued driver's license (except for free balloons and gliders, for which neither are required)
  • Be able to read, write, and speak the English language
  • Have completed the following flight training as a student pilot training under a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI):
  • A minimum of 20 hours flight time, including:
    • Fifteen hours of dual flight instruction (time spent in flight training with an instructor in the aircraft with you)
    • Five hours solo
    • Two hours dual cross-country
    • One solo cross-country flight
    • Three hours of test prep instruction
  • Completion of the FAA Sport Pilot Knowledge Test (sometimes called the "written" test, although it's generally taken at a computer testing center these days)
  • Completion of the FAA Sport Pilot Practical Test (oral and flight test, or "checkride")


Minimum Ages for Flight Training

The FAA does not specify a minimum age to take "dual" flight training (that is, training with an instructor sitting with you in the aircraft). Flight schools and/or instructors may, at their discretion, decide whether a youngster is ready to start flight training. Generally, this decision will be based upon the youngster's physical ability to manipulate an aircraft's controls, and his or her mental and emotional maturity.

In order to obtain a Student Pilot Certificate and fly solo, however, a student pilot must be at least 16 years of age (or 14 for balloons and gliders), possess a valid Student Pilot Certificate, and be endorsed for solo flight by his or her instructor.

Im addition, if a student does not possess a valid driver's license (or if the student has a driver's license with certain age-related restrictions, such as a requirement that an adult be in the vehicle while they are driving), then that student will need to obtain an Airman Medical Certificate before being allowed to solo.


Security Requirements

In addition to the above, candidates for Sport Pilot certification must satisfy the Transortation Security Administration requirements that apply to all individuals applying for pilot training in the United States. These requirements must be met before a candidate begins instruction.


U.S. Citizens

Applicants who are U.S. citizens must provide a current, valid, government-issued picture I.D. (such as a driver's license) and one of the following proofs of citizenship before beginning pilot training:

  • A valid, unexpired U.S. passport (may also be used to meet the photo I.D. requirement)
  • An original, government-issued birth certificate of the United States, American Samoa, or Swains Island
  • An original Certification of Birth of a U.S. Citizen Abroad, Certificate of U.S. Citizenship, or Certificate of Repatriation, with raised seal
  • An original U.S. Naturalization Certificate with raised seal


Candidates who are not U.S. citizens (including those who have permanent resident status) must comply with extensive requirements that include fingerprinting, photographs, background checks, and the payment of a processing fee ($130.00 as of this writing).

The time needed to complete the approval process varies according to many factors, including the type of training desired and whether the applicant already holds an aviation-related security clearance. In most cases, however, new applicants for Sport Pilot flight training will fall into TSA Category 3 and will receive an email authorization to begin initial training shortly after all of their paperwork (including fingerprints) and the required fee are received by TSA.  

Medical Requirements

Sport Pilots who possess a current and valid U.S. driver's license don't have to have an Airman Medical Certificate, but some requirements and conditions do apply.







Private Pilot Gyroplane - Initial


     *  Valid FAA Class III (or higher) Medical 
     *  70% or higher on Private Pilot Gyroplane written exam 
     *  Minimum of 40 hours flight time 
     *  Minimum of 20 hours flight instruction 
     *  15 hours of which must be in a gyroplane 
     *  Gyroplane instruction must include: 
         3 hours cross country flying 
         3 hours and 10 take offs and landings at night 
         3 hours preparation within 60 days of check ride 
     *  Minimum of 10 hours solo flight time in gyroplanes. 
     *  The gyroplane solo flight time must include: 
         3 hours cross-country flying including one flight of 75 NM 
         3 take offs and landings at a towered airport 
     *  Flight Check




Sport Pilot Gyroplane Cat/Class Add-on

 If you hold a Recreational or higher pilot certificate, you already have SP Privileges. In order to exercise those privileges, you need an endorsement (practical test – oral and flight) in your logbook, from a CFI or CFI-SP for that make / model of gyroplane, regardless of whether you will carry a passenger.  Note, a CFI can give you the practical test - a Designated Examiner is not required!  But, to get this SP endorsement you will need to work with two gyroplane instructors – one to (train and) endorse you to take the practical test, and one to give you the practical test and SP endorsement. This only applies if your gyroplane meets the LSA criteria of weight, speed and number of seats.  (Pilots exercising Sport Pilot privileges must always have a gyroplane category and class PRIVELEDGES logbook endorsement before operating a gyroplane. Pilots exercising Sport Pilot privileges are limited to the specific make / model “set” of light-sport gyroplane they are operating.)  One advantage of this Sport Pilot privileges option is that no FAA medical will be required.



What is a Light-Sport Aircraft (LSA)? 

The FAA defines a Light Sport Aircraft as an aircraft, other than a helicopter or powered-lift that, since its original certification, has continued to meet the following:

  • Maximum gross takeoff weight—1,320 lbs, or 1,430 lbs for seaplanes.
  • Lighter-than-air maximum gross weight—660 lbs (300 kg.)
  • Maximum stall speed—51 mph (45 knots)
  • Maximum speed in level flight with maximum continuous power (Vh)—138 mph (120 knots)
  • Single or two-seat aircraft only
  • Single, reciprocating engine (if powered), including rotary or diesel engines
  • Fixed or ground-adjustable propeller
  • Unpressurized cabin
  • Fixed landing gear, except for an aircraft intended for operation on water or a glider
  • Can be manufactured and sold ready-to-fly under a new Special Light-Sport aircraft certification category. Aircraft must meet industry consensus standards. Aircraft under this certification may be used for sport and recreation, flight training, and aircraft rental.
  • Can be licensed Experimental Light-Sport Aircraft (E-LSA) if kit- or plans-built. Aircraft under this certification may be used only for sport and recreation and flight instruction for the owner of the aircraft.
  • Can be licensed Experimental Light-Sport Aircraft (E-LSA) if the aircraft has previously been operated as an ultralight but does not meet the FAR Part 103 definition of an ultralight vehicle. These aircraft must be transitioned to E-LSA category no later than January 31, 2008.
  • Will have FAA registration—N-number.
  • Aircraft category and class includes: Airplane (Land/Sea), Gyroplane, Airship, Balloon, Weight-Shift-Control ("Trike" Land/Sea), and Powered Parachute.
  • U.S. or foreign manufacture of light-sport aircraft is authorized.
  • Aircraft with a standard airworthiness certificate that meet above specifications may be flown by sport pilots. However, the aircraft must remain in standard category and cannot be changed to light-sport aircraft category. Holders of a sport pilot certificate may fly an aircraft with a standard airworthiness certificate if it meets the definition of a light-sport aircraft.
  • May be operated at night if the aircraft is equipped per FAR 91.205, if such operations are allowed by the aircraft's operating limitations and the pilot holds at least a Private Pilot certificate and a minimum of a third-class medical.






Privileges and Limitations of Sport Pilots

The Sport Pilot program provides a faster, less expensive way for aspiring pilots to earn their wings. But the reduced training time required for sport pilots does necessitate certain restrictions that don't apply to holders of more advanced pilot certificates.


Aircraft that Sport Pilots may Operate

A Sport Pilot may operate as Pilot in Command (PIC) of an aircraft that qualifies as a Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) and which is in the same category, class, and set as an aircraft in which the pilot has been trained and endorsed.

Sport Pilots can also fly conventionally registered (Standard Airworthiness Certificate) aircraft, amateur-built aircraft, or experimental aircraft whose weight, complexity, seating, and performance meet LSA requirements.


Operating Privileges of Sport Pilots

A Sport Pilot may act as Pilot in Command of an eligible LSA:

  • During daylight hours under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) conditions and with visual reference to the ground
  • Solo or while carrying a single passenger, who may share up to one-half of the operating expenses (fuel, landing fees, aircraft rental, etc.) for that particular trip.
  • At altitudes up to 10,000 feet above mean sea level (MSL)
  • Cross-country, anywhere in the United States
  • In Class E and G Airspace (and in Class B, C, and D airspace, with appropriate training and a logbook endorsement)


Limitations of Sport Pilots

A Sport Pilot may not operate as Pilot in Command of an aircraft:

  • When weather conditions are less than VFR minimums or when they don't have visual reference to the ground
  • At night
  • In Class A airspace
  • For compensation or hire
  • In furtherance of a business
  • When demonstrating an aircraft to a potential buyer or lessee
  • As a member of a volunteer airlift
  • As a required crew member of an aircraft requiring more than one pilot
  • Outside of the United States, unless authorized by the foreign aviation authority


In addition, Sport Pilots who wish to fly an aircraft that is not in the same set as an aircraft for which they have been trained and endorsed must first obtain training and a logbook endorsement for the additional category, class, and/or set of aircraft, as appropriate.

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