Weight Shift Control Trike LSA Private Pilot Training

Are you a weight-shift control trike sport pilot applicant (or a sport pilot student in training) who wants to transition from a sport pilot WSC certificate to a private pilot WSC certificate?

Or, are you a private pilot airplane student and want to utilize your private pilot airplane for sport or private WSC trike training to obtain a sport pilot certificate?

We’ve got the answers to many of your questions.

Differences between sport pilot and private pilot

Sport trike pilots are limited to no night flying, and no flying above 10,000 feet MSL (or 2000 feet AGL whichever is higher), towing, NOTHING for compensation or hire and must always have a visual reference with the ground.

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 pilots cannot. 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 cannot do demo rides to sell aircraft.

Foreign students learning should go with the private pilot because the private pilot certificate is recognized in foreign countries while the sport pilot license is not international.

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 all 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 towered controlled airports with the additional training and endorsements.

The standards are the same

There is no difference in the piloting ability between a weight-shift control sport pilot and private pilot. The standards are the same.

However, weight-shift control 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 of the knowledge test questions and the practical test standards(Checkride) of the additional subjects the private pilot must be trained and tested:

  • Night flight with night cross country training
  • 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)

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 of 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.
  • They do not want to fly into busy airports and/or want the stress/learning required to talk with a control tower.
To use sport pilot training hours towards private, there are some important concepts to understand:
  • Pilot Training hours for Private can only be done by a CFI with a weight-shift control CFI rating and a Private pilot weight-shift control rating operating under “Subpart K Flight Instructors with a Sport Pilot Rating” (CFIS).
  • Any hours towards a Private pilot certificate may only be accomplished by a qualified WSC Private Pilot and qualified WSC CFI. Airplane CFI does not count as qualified to teach Sport or Private WSC

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 steppingstones to building knowledge and experience to private pilot knowledge, skill and requirements.

Note that a private pilot airplane, or any private pilot, does not have to take a knowledge test to add on a WSC private pilot certificate per 61.63 (b)

Who can train WSC for the Private Pilot WSC?

To upgrade from a sport to a private pilot WSC, or if you want to be trained for a WSC trike private pilot certificate with no sport pilot WSC sport pilot certificate, you must be trained by an “authorized instructor” who is a WSC Private Pilot who has a sport pilot WSC CFI per 61.415 (b).

There is some relief for this, EAA exemption 8828E allows an EAA member who holds a private pilot certificate in any category and class to instruct at the private pilot level in WSC as long as they hold sport pilot privileges in the subject category and class.

You simply follow the lesson plans provided in this guide, study and take the private pilot knowledge test, and take a checkride with an FAA Private pilot WSC examiner.

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

How to use the Hamilton Pilot Training System (HPTS) To become a private pilot?

The Hamilton Pilot Training System includes a Sport Pilot / Private Pilot Guide in the SPORT AND PRIVATE PILOT TRAINING SYLLABUS – TRIKE to train from the ground up from Sport Pilot to Private Pilot.

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 “Night Flight lesson plan module PP1 also added to “Stage 3 Student pilot – Regulations – Cross Country”.’
  2. Airspace endorsement is also integrated into the “Stage 3 Student pilot – Regulations – Cross Country”.
  3. Private pilot knowledge Module PP2 and practical tests private module PP3 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 the training takes place, the weather conditions, the instructor/student schedule, or any other reason the instructor feels better for the student.

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

Private pilot airplane student transitioning to weight-shift control sport pilot license

Many students who have been training for private pilot airplane can easily use some training hours to obtain a sport pilot certificate.

40 hours total is required for a private pilot, of which 20 must be dual training in a WSC, 10 hours solo in a WSC with 10 hours from some other aircraft allowed to be used towards WSC.

Typically, the first phases of training for private are the same as the first training for sport because the more difficult night cross country training, 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 and meet the minimum hour requirements in 14 CFR 61.313.

Additional private pilot lesson plans:

  • Tower Controlled Airspace – Sport Pilot Training Syllabus. (this is not required if student or sport pilot has the airspace endorsement)
  • Night Flight with Night Cross Country Training – Private Pilot module 2
  • Private Pilot Knowledge Test Preparation – Private Pilot module 3
  • Private Pilot Checkride Preparation – Private Pilot module 4

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.

Training materials

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


Training: Knowledge test preparation: (Any one or combination) Checkride preparation:


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 the following:

  • 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: