Sport Pilot License
The Sport Pilot rule is fairly new to Aviation, being adopted in 2004. The Sport Pilot rule created an entirely new pilot’s license that did not exist before. Prior to the Sport Pilot rule, to fly any aircraft (other than part 103 ultralight vehicles), the minimum requirement was either a Private Pilots license or a Recreational Pilots license. Because the criteria for obtaining a Recreational license was not all that much less than a Private license and it came with significant limitations, very few people pursued it. Prior to the Sport Pilot rule another burdensome requirement for all pilots was the medical requirement. All pilots were required to have at least a third class flight medical. Now with the Sport Pilot rule in effect, a person may pursue and obtain a Sport Pilot license with only a valid driver’s license serving as their medical. (However anyone who has ever failed a flight medial is not eligible to fly under Sport Pilot unless they are able to get their medical reinstated. Once reinstated they can let it lapse and continue to fly as a Sport Pilot indefinitely.) While a Private Pilot is required to obtain a minimum of 40 hours of training, a Sport Pilot can complete a license in a minimum of 20 hours. (In either case, it is very common to need more than the minimum hours to complete all of the requirements and the exams.) Because a Sport Pilot is restricted to daytime VFR (visual flight rules), and is subject to stricter weather minimums, there is no night training or instrument training requirements for a Sport Pilot helping to greatly reduce the number of hours of training required. However, the privileges of a Sport Pilot are really very wide. A Sport Pilot may fly a Light Sport Aircraft in daylight VFR with 3 miles visibility and go essentially anywhere a private pilot can go! (there are various logbook endorsements needed for certain privileges, but still flying as a Sport Pilot.)
Light Sport Aircraft
The Sport Pilot rule along with creating a new pilot’s license also created a new classification of aircraft. A Light Sport aircraft is an aircraft with one or two seats, up to 1320 lbs gross weight, with a Vh speed (max full power level speed) of 140 mph or less. A light sport aircraft may be a fixed wing, weight shift, powered parachute, or gyrocopter. Each of those requires a different rating on a Sport Pilot license. To obtain an additional category rating for a sport pilot it is required to receive training from one instructor and be checked by a second instructor, and receive a log book endorsement. At Heavenbound Aviation we are only setup give flight instruction for fixed wing. Fixed wing, light sport aircraft are divided into two categories, high speed and low speed. Each category requires a separate logbook endorsement. We are able to train and endorse both of those categories. The Quicksilver Sport 2 SE meets the low speed criteria, and the Challenger 2 CWS with 65 HP meets the high speed criteria.
To obtain a Sport Pilot license there is a minimum of 20 hours of flight time required, 15 hours of dual instruction with an instructor, and 5 hours of solo. It is not unusual, however to exceed those minimums. There are several requirements to accomplish prior to taking a practical test, often referred to as a “check ride.”
Written test: You may take the written test at any time during the training process. To prepare for the written test it is recommend to take a ground school course. There are several computer based courses available such as Gliem, Sporty’s, and King Schools. There are also local classroom courses available. Once you have completed a ground school you will need an endorsement from the school or an instructor to take the written test, and you will have to register and go to a certified testing center to take it. It is not required to take the written test prior to flight training, or prior to solo flying, it can be done any time in the process. It simply must be completed before you can take your check ride. Once you take the written test you will have two years to complete your check ride. If you do not pass a check ride within two years you will have to retake the written test.
Flight instruction: The flight training portion of your training is the fun part! There are many things to cover during this training such as various flight maneuvers, take offs and landings, slow flight, stalls, emergency procedures, cross country navigation, etc… We will also cover preflight inspection of the aircraft, as well as maintenance requirements and procedures. The cross country navigation portion will require a dual and a solo cross country flight with stops at two other airports and a total distance of 75 miles. Then a couple hours of test prep prior to the check ride.
Check Ride: To complete your sport pilot license you will need to schedule a practical test (check ride) with an FAA agent, or a designated pilot examiner (DPE) If possible it is best to go with the FAA since that is free. (Well, not exactly free. You paid for it at tax time!) A DPE will usually charge around $250-350. Sometimes it’s worth going to a DPE if there is a good one available. Whether it is the FAA, or a DPE, how easy the are to work with depends on the individual. Some are great to work with, some not so much. We will help you make that decision when the time comes.
Once you have your sport pilot license you will need to be current to take a passenger, you must have completed at least 3 take offs and landings in the previous 90 days. Also, you must complete a flight review with an instructor every two years. That’s pretty much it. Your pilot’s license is valid for the rest of your life unless it is revoked or surrendered. You could stop flying for 50 years, and go take a flight review and you are legal to go fly again!
The current cost for flight training in the Quicksilver is $195 per hour for dual and solo instruction. (I know that seems like a lot of money, but the Quicksilver Sport 2 SE cost over $40,000, plus $5,000 per year for insurance that covers flight instruction, plus stringent maintenance requirements, repairs, and fuel. It really is not a profitable venture so much as a means to sell new aircraft and make sure that our customers can safely fly them. And it’s a whole lot of fun!) The total cost to complete a sport pilot license can be expected to fall between $4000-$4500 if you complete it entirely in our aircraft. If you make it in the minimum 20 hours, that would be $3900. Then add in the cost for the ground school and materials, the fee for the written test, and the fee for the DPE if you choose to go that route.
Another option is to use your own aircraft for part or all of the training. If you have a two seat light sport aircraft of your own, I may be willing to train you in it. Also, if you have a single seat Quicksilver or Challenger, you may be able to use that for your solo portion of the training. One complication for this route is that an Experimental Amateur Built aircraft must have flown off the Phase 1 flight testing (40 hours) before it can legally be used for dual flight instruction. It can however still be used for solo flying during phase 1. One solution to this is to purchase an SLSA Quicksilver which can be used for flight training immediately, or to purchase an ELSA Quicksilver which can be used for flight training (except for hire) after a 5 hour phase 1 flight testing, which we can do for you. Then you can take all of your training in your own aircraft. Currently Challenger does not offer an SLSA or ELSA aircraft. Although Challenger aircraft meet light sport criteria for the pilot, the aircraft airworthiness certificate will be Experimental Amateur Built.