You may find yourself in one of these situations…

  • You are a Private Pilot and want to be a Sport Pilot
  • You are a Sport Pilot applicant (or a Sport Pilot student in training) who wants to just go for private pilot and bypass the Sport Pilot certificate all together
  • You have a Sport Pilot certificate and you want to transition from a Sport Pilot to a Private Pilot certificate
  • You a Private Pilot student and want to utilize your Private Pilot training to obtain a Sport Pilot certificate

Don’t worry…we’ve got the answers to many of the frequently asked questions about Private Pilot sport plane training.

Differences between sport pilot and private pilot overview

Sport Pilots are limited to flying light sport aircraft, no night flying, and no flying above 10,000 feet MSL or 2000 feet AGL whichever is higher and NOTHING for compensation or hire.

Private pilots may fly for business related activities as long as the flight is “only incidental to the business” and the aircraft does not carry passengers for compensation or hire. This opens the door for using an aircraft for business related activities. Additionally, as a private pilot you can demonstrate an aircraft to a buyer as an aircraft salesman. This is required to do sales demos at airshows. Sport pilots can not do demo rides to sell aircraft.

Private pilots may fly for business related activities as long as the flight is “only incidental to the business” and the aircraft does not carry passengers for compensation or hire. Sport pilot can not. This opens up doors for using a trike for business related activities. Additionally, as a private pilot you can demonstrate an aircraft to a buyer as an aircraft salesman. This is required to do sales demos at airshows. Sport pilots can not do demo rides to sell aircraft.

Private pilots may also fly “on top” of clouds with no visual reference to the surface. This is handy to go over a valley that is fogged in or over the top of clouds rather than underneath them. Additionally, private pilots can fly in Class G airspace (airspace close to the ground) with only 1 mile of visibility.

See FAR 61.113 and 61.315 to see the specific differences between the two.

Training and requirements for the sport pilot certificate do not include flight at towered airports, but sport pilots can fly into control towered airports with additional training and endorsements.

The standards are the same

There is no difference in the piloting ability (stick and rudder skills) between a sport pilot and private pilot. The flying standards are the same.

However, sport pilots are not required to have training in a number of areas which reduces the minimum required training time by half. This is an overview from the knowledge test questions and the PTS (practical test standards) or Checkride of the additional subjects the private pilot must be trained and tested:

  • Night flight with night cross country training
  • Instrument flight training (except for some required before a cross country flight in a LSA above Vh 87 knots)
  • Radio navigation (VOR, DME, etc. which many do not use any more with the modern GPS)
  • Communications and operations at tower controlled airports (however, sport pilots can obtain this training and privileges, but this is in addition to the minimum sport pilot requirements)

Private pilot wanting to become a sport pilot

A Private Pilot using a drivers license as medical eligibility is a Sport Pilot. You must operate using the Sport Pilot privileges and limitations per 61.315, fly a Light-Sport Aircraft (LSA) and must have a flight review (in a LSA) similar to private pilots. Private Pilots operating as Sport Pilots can operate in tower controlled airspace with out the additional “airspace endorsement” requireed by sport pilots. The Private Pilot certificate demonstrates the knowledge and skill to operate within tower controled airspace per 61.303 (A) 2 ii.

Can sport pilot training be used for private pilot training?

To clarify the question – Yes and No. Here are the details you need to know which depends on the flight instructor rating.

First off, solo time is solo time. Yes, all solo time for sport pilot can be used towards the private pilot certificate.

Dual training is where it gets tricky. To understand the differences in Sport and Private pilot training the differences in flight instructors must be understood. A normal private pilot CFI (subpart H) can train Sport and Private pilots and can teach in both LSA and non LSA. A flight instructor with a Sport rating CFIS (subpart K) can only teach sport pilots and only teach in Light-Sport Aircraft…

So yes, if the flight instructor is qualified and current as a private pilot flight instructor (CFI), than all the dual training time counts towards the sport and the private pilot certificate. If you start training, or even get your sport pilot license first, all your dual training counts towards the private pilot certificate also with a CFI.

But no, if the flight instructor has a Flight Instructor with a Sport Rating (CFIS), the dual training DOES NOT count towards the dual training for the private pilot certificate.

So, typically, to go from a sport to a private pilot would take an additional 20 hours any way for the extra night, instrument, VOR navigation and towered airports dual training.

Here is a unique situation where a subpart H (private) certified flight instructor (CFI) has a current flight instructor certificate but let his 3rdclass medical expire. He/she can instruct a student private pilot in a light sport aircraft without a medical and the time counts towards a sport pilot and private pilot because he/she is pilot in command (PIC). All hours count towards a sport and private certificate (except night) because the CFI has a valid Subpart H flight instructor certificate and is PIC of the LSA. He/she cannot fly or provide instruction in a non LSA, at night in any aircraft or in IFR conditions in any aircraft because he cannot be pilot in command.

The CFI with an expired medical and a CFIS can give instrument training in a LSA required by 61.93 (e)(12) before a student cross country if the aircraft has the required equipment, AND as long as they are in day VMC. No attitude display is required for this and a partial panel (compass, airspeed, altitude) is adequate.

Sport pilot To private pilot transition overview

Many pilots want to obtain their Sport Pilot certificate first and may or may not want to go on to private pilot because one or more of these typical/common reasons:

  • They do not want to hassle with the FAA medical examination or risk not passing it, essentially ending their flying dream.
  • They want to get their FAA pilot certificate in half the time and half the cost.
  • They have no need nor desire for flying at night or above 10,000 feet.
  • Their aircraft is not equipped with IFR instruments or they do not intend on flying by instruments.
  • They plan on using a GPS rather than old and more difficult VOR/DME radio navigation systems
  • They do not want to fly into busy airports and/or want the stress/learning required to talk with a control tower.

However, if an applicant wants to start as a Sport Pilot and use sport pilot training hours towards private, there are some important concepts to understand.

  • Pilot Training hours for Private cannot be done by a CFIS operating only under “Subpart K Flight Instructors with a Sport Pilot Rating” (CFIS). This may change in the future.
  • Any hours towards a Private pilot certificate may only be accomplished by a CFI who is operating under “Subpart H Flight Instructors Other than Flight Instructors with a Sport Pilot Rating”.

To upgrade from a sport to a private pilot, the sport pilot (Airplane) is trained by a qualified private pilot CFI following the lesson plans provided in this guide, study and take the private pilot knowledge test, and take a checkride with an FAA Private pilot examiner. There is no additional cost to becoming a sport pilot first except the sport pilot knowledge test and the sport pilot checkride, both which are stepping stones to building knowledge and experience to private pilot knowledge, skill and requirements.

Sport pilot to private pilot – Details for logging hours

These are the regulations that apply along with interpretation from the FAA Light Sport Branch in Oklahoma City:

SPORT PILOT DUAL FLIGHT TRAINING HOURS REQUIRED

FOR PRIVATE PILOT APPLICANT THESE ARE THE DUAL FLIGHT TRAINING REQUIREMENTS

§ 61.109 Aeronautical experience.

For an airplane single-engine rating. Except as provided in paragraph (k) of this section, a person who applies for a private pilot certificate with an airplane category and single-engine class rating must log at least 40 hours of flight time that includes at least 20 hours of flight training from an authorized instructor and 10 hours of solo flight training in the areas of operation listed in § 61.107(b)(1) of this part, and the training must include at least – “Etc, etc”.

Interpretation: Only training performed per 61.107 (b) (1) can be used for a private pilot ASEL certificate/checkride. Therefore, the only way to provide pre sport pilot certificate training, that can also be used to get a private pilot certificate, is for a subpart H CFI to log dual flight training.

The hours trained by a Subpart H CFI would be acceptable to an examiner for a Private Pilot checkride and a Sport Pilot Checkride because the training is provided by an instructor who can perform both.

Private pilot airplane student transitioning to sport pilot license

Many students who have been training for Private Pilot can easily use their hours and obtain a sport pilot certificate. All hours in any aircraft count towards a sport pilot certificate but the checkride must be taken in an airplane light-sport aircraft (LSA). It must be understood that any sport pilot applicant should fly a LSA before taking a checkride in it because they have unique flying characteristics and the applicant must be familiar before taking a checkride in any unfamiliar aircraft.

If the student pilot (Airplane) wants to solo an aircraft that is not a LSA, an FAA third class medical/student certificate must be obtained to fly the standard category/non LSA aircraft.

Typically, the first phases of training for private is the same as the first training for sport because the more difficult night cross country training, instrument training, radio navigation, high altitude use of oxygen, and communications/operations at tower controlled airports is generally not accomplished at the beginning of the private pilot training (note: If training is conducted at a towered airport, towered communications is normally started early in the training process).

For a private pilot student to obtain a sport pilot certificate the student must take the sport pilot knowledge test which is much simpler than the private pilot knowledge test, meet the minimum hour requirements in 14 CFR 61.313, and but take a checkride in a light-sport aircraft.

Additional private pilot lesson plans

If a sport pilot wants to continue on and get a private pilot license, the following additional areas must be accomplished. (note: the logging of hours must be accomplished as listed as above for Sport Pilot hours to count towards the private pilot certificate).

Additional areas the sport pilot must accomplish are:

Tower Controlled Airspace – Sport Pilot Training Syllabus, module 20 (page 56).

  • (this is not required if student or sport pilot has the airspace endorsement)
  • Instrument Training – Private Pilot module 1
  • Radio Navigation – Private Pilot module 2
  • Night Flight with Night Cross Country Training – Private Pilot module 3
  • Private Pilot Knowledge Test Preparation – Private Pilot module 4
  • Private Pilot Checkride Preparation – Private Pilot module 5

It must be understood that if any pilot is transitioning from a sport pilot certificate to a private pilot certificate that all homework, ground school and flight proficiency from the Sport Pilot Training Syllabus must be accomplished prior to these lesson plans because it is a prerequisite to the private pilot additional materials presented here.

Hamilton Pilot Training System for sport pilot student to private pilot license

The Hamilton Pilot Training System (HPTS) SPORT AND PRIVATE PILOT TRAINING SYLLABUS – AIRPLANE is very useful for training sport pilot and private pilots. The airspace endorsement (HPTS Sport Pilot Training Syllabus – module 20) lesson and additional private pilot lesson plans listed in this guide are the additional training required:

  1. Private pilot “Instrument training lesson plan module PP1” is integrated into “Stage 2 Flight Maneuvers and Aeronautical Knowledge to Solo”.
  2. Private Pilot “Radio navigation lesson plan module PP2” is integrated into “Stage 3 Student pilot – Regulations – Cross Country”.
  3. Private Pilot “Night Flight lesson plan module PP3 also added to “Stage 3 Student pilot – Regulations – Cross Country”.’
  4. Airspace endorsement is also integrated into the “Stage 3 Student pilot – Regulations – Cross Country”.
  5. Private pilot knowledge Module PP4 and practical tests private module PP5 simply replace the sport pilot “Stage 4 Test Preparation”.

It must be understood that the order of the syllabus lesson plans may be rearranged by the instructor depending on the airspace in which the training takes place, the weather conditions, the instructor/student schedule, or any other reason the instructor the feels the order of the training syllabus should be changed to be better for the student.

Training materials

Many of the training materials are interchangeable between the sport pilot and the private pilot except the knowledge and practical test materials.

SPORT PILOT LICENSE TO PRIVATE PILOT LICENSE

Training:

Knowledge test preparation:

Checkride preparation:

SPORT PILOT STUDENT DIRECTLY TO PRIVATE PILOT LICENSE

Training:

Knowledge test preparation:

Checkride preparation:

PRIVATE PILOT STUDENT TRANSITIONING TO SPORT PILOT

Most of the Private Pilot training materials are applicable to the Sport Pilot except the training syllabus, and the knowledge and checkride test preparation materials. The instructor can assign chapters that correlate with the sport pilot training syllabus with the existing materials and eliminate:
Training:

  • Night flight with night cross country training
  • Instrument flight training (Airplane only)
  • Radio navigation (VOR, DME, etc) (Airplane only)
  • Communications and operations at tower controlled airports (however, sport pilots can obtain this training and privileges but this is in addition to the minimum sport pilot requirements)

Checkride preparation: