Sport Pilot Summary


Sport pilots are a new type of license issued by the FAA, which was put into effect in 2004. It represents a changing atmosphere in the industry, where it has become bogged down by excessive bureaucracy and expense. Light sport, and by extension, the sport pilot, provides a simpler balance to learning to fly and a new approach to aircraft construction and safety.

Remember, a sport pilot and light sport aircraft are two different things! Most limitations that are quoted in the industry about light sport aircraft are misnomers; they are actually sport pilot limitations that can be removed if you decided to get your private pilot's license later on, while still being able to fly a light sport aircraft!

Note: Your experience as a sport pilot pilot, and time already logged, apply towards the other licenses too! Using sport pilot as a stepping stone is perfectly reasonable! In fact, time recieved from a sport pilot instructor will count towards private pilot as well, effective July 27th, 2018 and will be retroactive!

Sport Pilot Requirements are dictated by Chapter 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 61, Subpart J. We'll highlight the important stuff below.

To be eligible for a sport pilot certificate, a person must:

  • Be at least 17 years old -- Note: anyone may take lessons from an instructor at any age! You must be 17 when you go to the FAA to apply for the license, but you can fly by yourself at 16!
  • Be able to read, speak, write, and understand English.
  • 20 hours of flight time, including at least 15 hours of flight training from an authorized instructor in a single-engine airplane and at least 5 hours of solo flight training
  • Complete an aeronautical knowledge test (we have ground school training material to prepare you for it)
  • Complete an oral examination and practical test with an FAA examiner

There are a few other requirements, but your instructor will be your guide, and help you understand what it is you need to do. The above are the most important that you need to know!


Below are the costs of training for a SPORT PILOT certificate with New Flyers Association. Please be aware, experience and number of lessons per week WILL affect how much training you need.

Training: FAA Minimum Requirements

Please note that the FAA minimum requirements are an absolute minimum, and are an unrealistic goal in the industry. Some providers like to list them instead of REAL costs as a way to try and recruit students by making it look like they can get a pilot's license cheaply. As a consequence, their students will always find they are falling short, fly over-budget, and crush their dreams and their bank account. New Flyers Association does not condone such unscrupulous behavior, and we are only providing these minimums as a reference. Please see the "New Flyers Average Estimate" further down the page for realistic costs.

Flight Design CTLS Rental 20 119 2,380
Flight Instruction 15 50 750
Sport Pilot Training Kit - 119 119
Ground Instruction 3 35 105
Charts, Airport Facility Directory - 40 40
FAA Written Exam- 150 150
FAA Examiner's Fee - 400 400
Estimated Training Costs* 3,944

Training: Averages

Below you will find realistic expectations, while flying at minimum twice a week. Note that the more often you fly, the LESS time you will need to learn to fly, and therefore your costs will get closer and closer to the FAA minimums!

Flight Design CTLS Rental 35 119 4,165
Flight Instruction 20 50 1,000
Sport Pilot Training Kit - 119 119
Ground Instruction 5 35 175
Charts, Airport Facility Directory - 40 40
FAA Written Exam - 150 150
FAA Examiner's Fee - 400 400
Estimated Training Costs* 6,049

*These costs are for training and training material only. There will be other costs like club membership, as well as those outside of NFA's control, such as insurance (usually 200-300 a year), any additional training you might need, and applicable taxes. These will add up to around 1k extra. There are ways to save though with NFA's Discount Programs!