The Basic Pilot Licenses You Will Need to Fly
You will need a pilot license (or certificate) in order to pursue your passion of flying airplanes, either for yourself, to be able to bring your family and friends on trips, or eventually to make flying as your lifetime career. In this post I will cover only the basic ones.
These are the basic pilot licenses that you will encounter in the beginning. You will have to start with the student pilot license, and depending on your goal, you will need to complete the necessary requirements to get either the recreational, sport or private pilot license. Just remember that when you decide on either the recreational or sport license, you can always go for the private pilot license later on.
This is where it all begins. Although a student license is not required at the beginning of your training when you are flying with a flight instructor, it doesn’t make sense to start out without having one. This is just to make sure that everything is in order, specially the medical part of it. The best way to go is to apply for a combination of student pilot license and medical certificate. Before you fly solo, though, a student pilot license and a valid medical certificate is required before the flight instructor will sign you off for that first solo flight.
If all you are interested in is to occasionally be able to get up in the air to satisfy your desire to fly, this may be all that you need. However, what you can do with this license is severely restricted.
a. You are limited to fly no more than 50 miles from airport where you received training
b. You can only carry 1 passenger
c. You can fly only in daylight hours
d. You cannot fly in airspace where there is a control tower
There are more restrictions that what I’ve mentioned above. You can however get waivers for some of the restrictions.
Sport pilots can only fly a special limited class of aircraft known as light sport aircraft (LSA). Sport pilots are not required to have medical certificates, you only need a valid driver’s license to prove your medical eligibility. With this license you can fly cross country in the U.S. However, the usefulness of this license is also restricted.
a. You can carry only 1 passenger as LSA’s are either 1 or 2 seaters only.
b. You can fly only in daylight hours
c. You can fly only when visibility is at least 3 miles
d. Flights into controlled airspace is restricted.
A private pilot license will give you the utmost freedom in flying. With it the door to a whole new world is opened for you. A private pilot license, with the appropriate endorsements can give you the privilege to:
a. Fly pretty much any airplane you want (and can afford)
b. Fly into any airport
c. Fly at night and in instrument flying conditions
d. Carry any number of passengers
The only main difference between a private pilot license and that professional pilots have is you can’t use this license for compensation.