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Learn To Fly an Airplane Light Sport Aircraft – The First Step

Every journey begins with a single step. Once you’ve decided to go ahead and learn to fly a sport plane — something you may have been dreaming about for years — its time to plot a course to make it happen.

LEARN TO FLY A SPORT PLANE – MAPPING THE FIRST LEG OF YOUR JOURNEY

We’ll guide you in mapping the first leg of your journey with information on becoming a pilot, an outline of the steps in learning to fly an airplane light-sport aircraft (LSA), the time and costs of flight lessons, sport aircraft costs, and the sport plane you’ll fly.

When learning to fly a sport plane, you may choose to earn a sport or private pilot certificate. Compare some of the basic requirements for the two certificates in this convenient chart.

Flight Experience

(Part 61)

Sport Pilot Certificate
minimum hours

Private Certificate
minimum hours

Total Hours

20

40

Dual

15

20

Dual Cross Country

2

3 (50 nautical miles or more)

Solo

5

10

Solo Cross Country

One solo cross-country flight of at least 75 nautical miles total distance, with a full-stop landing at a minimum of two points and one segment of the flight consisting of a straight-line distance of at least 25 nautical miles between the takeoff and landing locations

5

Night Flight

0

3

Flight by Reference to Instruments

0

3

Practical Test Prep

2

3

Limitations

Sport

Private

Passengers

1

No Limit

Aircraft

Light sport aircraft

Restrictions based on operating privilege

Engines

1

1*

Seats

2

No Limit

Horsepower

Not specified (but max speed 120 knots)

200*

Retractable Gear

No

No*

Altitude

10,000

18,000*

Airspace

Class G&E only*

No Class A*

Night Flying

No

Yes

Business Related

No

Yes

Flight w/o Ref. To Ground

No

Yes

Outside U.S.

No

Yes

Charity

No

Yes

Towing

No

Yes

*Indicates a limitation may be removed with additional training, endorsements and/or ratings.

In many ways learning to fly light-sport aircraft (LSA) and getting your sport pilot certificate is much like getting your driver’s license. So how do you get started?

WHAT ARE THE FIRST STEPS TO TAKE TO LEARN HOW TO FLY?

  1. Talk To Sport Pilots

    Talk with your friends about your desire to learn to fly a sport airplane or weight-shift control trike light-sport aircraft and become a sport pilot. You may be surprised how many of them are sport pilots. Pilots love to talk about flying and are always happy to give advice. Use the Sport Pilot Locator to find a pilot near you.

  2. Find A Flight School

    Chances are good there’s a flight school near your home that instruct in airplane or weight-shift control trike LSA. Use the Sport Pilot Locator to find flight schools near you. Once you have about three to choose from, then visit each to find one with an atmosphere that best suits your learning needs. Also consider travelling to receive training. We always say, “It is best to travel for training that suits your learning style, than to settle for training that doesn’t meet your needs.”

  3. Take An Introductory Flight

    Sign up for a short, introductory flight in either a sport airplane and weight-shift control trike LSA to find out what it’s like to be at the controls of the aircraft. If you’re uncertain which one you want to learn to fly, now is a great time to learn more so you can make an educated decision on which one you’d prefer to fly. You’ll see what it’s like to visually inspect a LSA before flight, take off, fly, land, park, and shut down.

  4. Choose An Instructor

    Some LSA flight schools may have only one or several instructors to choose from. Assess your own learning style and find an instructor with a compatible teaching style. If after a few lessons you don’t think things are working out very well, schedule a lesson with another flight instructor. It’s OK to switch to an instructor whose teaching style better meets your needs.

  5. The LSA You’ll Fly

    Like falling in love with your first car long before you ever learned to drive, you may have a special place in your heart for a certain make or model of sport plane or trike LSA long before you select a flight school. You may even select your flight school based in part upon the type of aircraft that they fly. Many times, they’ll have a training facility on the premises or can recommend one to you. Use the Sport Pilot Locator to find a LSA sales facility near you.

  6. Budget Your Time and Money

    Calculate the hourly cost for the flight instructor, aircraft rental (if applicable), and fuel. After you run the numbers, decide how often you can fly and then pencil lessons in your schedule. You’ll find that establishing a budget and schedule will make the flight training process go much smoother. Use the Sport Pilot Locator to find a LSA rental facility near you.

  7. Apply For Your Student Pilot Certificate

    This is similar to the learner’s permit you received when you’re learning how to drive. In the case of going for a sport pilot license, it is issued by an FAA Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE) or your local FAA office. (In the case of going for a private pilot license, the student pilot certificate is part of your medical certificate, which certifies that you are fit for flight.) Talk with your certified flight instructor about getting a student pilot certificate (and/or medical certificate.)

  8. Signup For Flight Lessons

    You will first fly with a flight instructor and when you are ready, you will solo. The basic techniques of flying — takeoff, turning, landing — are fairly easy to learn. The Sport Pilot Certification Course will teach you about micrometeorology, different launch and flying techniques, safety procedures, etc.

Use the Sport Pilot Locator to find a flight school / instructor near you for flight lessons.

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