So let’s go over the new rules. Sport pilots need the following training:
- A minimum of 20 hours flight time including 15 hours with a certified instructor and 5 hours solo (by yourself)
- Two hours of cross-country flying (more than 75 nautical miles)
- Pass the FAA knowledge test (30 questions requiring a 70 percent or better score)
- Three hours of training in preparation for the FAA practical test (called the checkride)
- Pass the FAA practical test
- Present a valid automobile driver’s license or a third-class FAA medical certificate as proof of medical health
Some folks think the most important new rule is the medical requirement for sport-pilot certificates. Private-pilot and higher certificates require an FAA medical examination and sign-off, intentionally restrictive to make sure airline pilots are in top condition. In most cases, the medical requirement for the new sport-pilot certificate is simply your valid driver’s license. If you can drive, you can fly. The exception is for pilots whose third-class medical certificate has been denied, suspended, or revoked. In these cases the FAA requires reapplication for a new medical certificate.
With the certificate, the sport pilot can …
- Fly in non-radio-controlled U.S. airspace and certain radio-controlled airspace (with training and endorsement).
- Fly up to 10,000 feet above mean sea level (MSL).
- Fly with visual reference to the surface under visual flight rules (VFR), daytime only.
- Fly an aircraft that meets the following LSA guidelines:
- Single-engine (non-turbine) aircraft with fixed (not retractable) landing gear
- Two occupants, including the pilot
- 1,320 lbs. maximum gross weight (including the plane, passengers, luggage, fuel, etc.)
- Maximum airspeed of 120 nautical miles (about 138 miles) an hour
- Maximum stall speed of 45 knots (51 miles an hour)
- Have fun!
A stall occurs when wings lose some or all of their ability to lift the aircraft due to the wing angle. A knot is one nautical mile (6,076.12 feet) per hour, about 15 percent longer than a standard or statute mile. To convert knots into miles per hour, multiply by 1.15. To convert miles per hour into knots, multiply by .869.
"Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore."
-- Andre Gide