Sport, Recreational, and Private Pilot Certificates

A licensed pilot, Peter Bergstein takes an active role in the flying community. Peter Bergstein is a member of the American Private Pilot Association.

To become a pilot in the United States, a candidate must pass both a written and a practical examination. All candidates begin by acquiring a student pilot certificate, which allows them to train and work up to a solo flight. After the solo flight and further training, they can apply for a sport, recreational, or private pilot certificate.

The sport pilot certification carries the most limitations. Sport pilots may only fly light sport aircrafts (LSAs), a relatively new form of craft that is lighter in weight and includes seating for only one or two persons. The sport pilot certificate, in existence since 2004, requires less training and does not demand a medical certificate.

The recreational pilot certificate also carries certain limitations. A recreational pilot may fly only during daylight hours and may fly only craft with a single power plant of under 180 horsepower. Recreational pilots are also limited in the distance they may fly without special authorization. For this reason, most recreational pilots go on to earn private pilot certificates, which allow for the possibility of more advanced authorizations such as poor-weather or professional flying.

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