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Flight Training Frequently Asked Questions

Seeking answers to common questions about flight training? Look no further than our Flight Training Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section, specially curated for student pilots like you. We’ve compiled a list of typical inquiries along with detailed answers to provide you with the essential information you need.
If your specific question remains unanswered, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. ActivePILOT is always here to provide up-to-date information regarding changes in procedures or revisions to regulations. Your success as a student pilot is our priority, and we are dedicated to assisting you at every step of the way. See Contact Page.

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Flying As A Career

I have heard it’s hard to find a job as a pilot, is that true?

While it is true that the aviation industry can be competitive, the demand for pilots has historically fluctuated and is influenced by various factors. The pilot job market often depends on the overall state of the economy, airline expansions or contractions, and advancements in aviation technology. Despite occasional challenges, the aviation industry has shown resilience and continues to grow over the long term. It's essential for aspiring pilots to stay informed about industry trends and be adaptable to seize opportunities when they arise.

At ActivePILOT, we strive to provide comprehensive training and resources to help our students prepare for the competitive job market. Our career guidance services and networking opportunities aim to enhance your employability and increase your chances of landing a rewarding job as a pilot.

Automation is taking a lot of the fun and responsibility out of flying, is the future for pilots secured?

As aviation technology advances, automation is indeed playing an increasingly significant role in flying. While automation enhances safety and efficiency, it has raised concerns about the future role of pilots. However, it's essential to recognize that automation cannot entirely replace human pilots. Pilots remain an integral part of the aviation system, responsible for critical decision-making, handling abnormal situations, and providing a human touch to passenger interactions.

The future for pilots is still secured, albeit with a shifting focus on more advanced and adaptable skillsets. ActivePILOT acknowledges the importance of training pilots to be proficient in operating and monitoring advanced avionics and automation systems. Our curriculum incorporates state-of-the-art training methods to prepare you for a successful career, ensuring you stay relevant in a technologically evolving aviation landscape.

Flight training costs more than any other major vocational training opportunity, does it worth it?

Flight training can indeed be a significant investment, and it's natural to question its worth. However, becoming a pilot offers a unique and rewarding career path that many find fulfilling both personally and professionally. The financial investment in flight training is an investment in your future, with opportunities for career advancement, job satisfaction, and the chance to explore the world from a whole new perspective.

At ActivePILOT, we understand the importance of balancing the cost of flight training with the potential returns. Our training programs are designed to be efficient and effective, helping you develop the skills and expertise needed to excel as a pilot while optimizing your training costs. We also provide information on financing options, scholarships, and career opportunities to support you in making an informed decision about your aviation journey.

Flying As an Adventure or Sport

I don’t have time for flight training, what should I do?

We understand your time constraints and offer flexible schedules tailored to your availability. Whether you prefer one training session per week or an accelerated program with two sessions per day, we will customize a plan to suit your needs. You retain complete control over your time, and our team will assist you in optimizing your flying training experience.

It’s less hassle to buy a high-performance boat or motorcycle, why go for flying?

While owning a high-performance boat or motorcycle may be convenient, the thrill of achievement that comes with earning your pilot's license is incomparable. Active pilots represent a small percentage of the population, and flying provides a unique adventure that most people cannot experience. Embrace the challenge and excitement of racing the clouds, enjoying the freedom of air travel, and enhancing your self-image as you become a pilot.

Flight training is expensive, why should I take it on as a hobby or sport?

Consider flight training as an adventure that surpasses owning luxury items or indulging in extensive travel. Compared to other recreational pursuits, flight training is a rewarding experience that opens doors to unparalleled possibilities. Flying allows you to explore new horizons, experience the thrill of conquering the skies, and cultivate a sense of accomplishment that sets it apart from anything else.

Flying is not as physical as I’d like it to be, is that true?

On the contrary, high-performance flying can be physically demanding, requiring focus, coordination, and skill. Piloting an aircraft involves a range of physical and mental challenges, making it a dynamic and engaging activity.

Flying is so automated that it’s not fun or a challenge anymore, is that true?

While modern aircraft feature advanced automation, flight training emphasizes learning without autopilot initially. The role of the pilot remains crucial for making informed decisions and handling various situations. Autopilot is designed to assist pilots, not replace them, ensuring that flying remains a fulfilling and challenging endeavor.

My partner won’t enjoy it. I’m looking for something we can do together. How can both of us enjoy it?

A6: Non-flying spouses often find joy in the travel opportunities, the convenience of private aviation, and the breathtaking scenery. Additionally, many partners become enthusiastic about flying after experiencing a discovery flight. When you fly, your partner can be your co-pilot, getting involved to the extent they prefer. Sharing the skies together can foster a deeper connection and create memorable experiences that you both cherish.

General Flight Training Questions

Is it difficult to fly an aircraft?

Flying an aircraft is not particularly difficult, especially for beginning student pilots. You will actively handle the controls of the aircraft during your training, and with proper instruction, you'll learn to manage the flying process effectively.

When may I begin to fly?

You can start flying immediately; however, before you undertake a solo flight, you'll need to apply for specific certificates, as detailed in this guide. These certificates are essential preparations to ensure a safe and successful solo flying experience.

Is flying safe?

Flying is a safe mode of transportation when certain conditions are met. A well-built and properly maintained aircraft, combined with a competent and prudent pilot, ensures that flying can be as safe or even safer than many other forms of transportation available.

If engine failure occurs, what will happen?

Engine failures in modern aircraft are rare due to the high reliability of aircraft engines. However, in the improbable event of an engine failure, there is no need to panic. You will not "fall out of the sky." Your flight training will have prepared you for such situations, and you will be instructed to select a suitable landing area and perform a controlled landing, ensuring the safety of both the aircraft and the occupants.

Student Pilot Flight Training

What are the eligibility requirements for a student pilot?

The eligibility requirements for a student pilot are detailed in 14 CFR part 61. For specific information on the student pilot certificate requirements, please refer to subpart C section 83.

Where can I obtain my ground and flight school training?

You can obtain information about ground and flight school training from most airport operators, or you may contact the nearest Flight Standards District Office (FSDO).

Is there a set number of flight instructional hours I will receive before I solo?

No, the number of flight instructional hours before your solo flight may vary. Your instructor will determine when you are proficient in specific maneuvers, including safe takeoffs and landings, as well as maintaining positive control of the aircraft and exercising good judgment.

What should I know about Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) prior to my first solo?

Before your first solo flight, your flight instructor will ensure that you are familiar with relevant portions of 14 CFR part 61 and the general and visual flight rules of 14 CFR part 91. You will also undergo a pre-solo written test that covers flight characteristics and operational limitations of the aircraft you will be flying.

What does an appropriate logbook endorsement for solo mean?

An appropriate logbook endorsement for solo indicates that an authorized flight instructor has verified that you have received the necessary instruction and are competent to conduct solo flights as of the specified date.

When is the first solo endorsement required?

A student pilot must have a first solo endorsement dated within 90 days prior to any solo flight.

What is the difference between a recreational pilot certificate and a private pilot certificate?

The recreational pilot certificate offers fewer privileges than the private pilot certificate. A recreational pilot can fly within 50 nautical miles of the airport where they received instruction and cannot operate in airspace requiring communication with air traffic control. The recreational pilot certificate typically requires fewer flight hours to obtain compared to a private pilot certificate.

Where can I get information about the Sport Pilot Program?

For information about the Sport Pilot Program, enthusiasts can visit the FAA's website at http://www.faa.gov/licenses_certificates/airmen_certification/sport_pilot/.

Does a student pilot automatically have the privilege of cross-country flying after soloing?

No, the student pilot must receive review and endorsement from their instructor for preflight planning and preparation for each solo cross-country flight. The instructor will determine the pilot's competency for the specific flight.

As a student pilot, am I permitted to carry passengers prior to receiving my recreational pilot certificate or private pilot certificate?

No, student pilots are not permitted to carry passengers until they have obtained either a recreational pilot certificate or a private pilot certificate.

Must I have a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) radiotelephone operator’s permit to operate an aircraft radio transmitter?

No, an FCC radiotelephone operator's permit is not required to operate an aircraft radio transmitter.

For the purpose of obtaining an additional certificate or rating, may the holder of a recreational pilot certificate act as pilot in command on flights: (1) between sunset and sunrise; and (2) in airspace which requires communication with air traffic control?

Yes, provided an authorized flight instructor has given the recreational pilot the required ground and flight training in these areas and endorsed the pilot's logbook accordingly. The pilot must carry the logbook with the required endorsements on such flights.

How can the holder of a sport or recreational pilot certificate ensure that no inadvertent entry is made into airspace requiring communication with air traffic control?

The pilot must select identifiable landmarks well beyond the boundaries of airspace requiring communication with air traffic control. During training, instruction on identifying such airspace will be provided.

Medical and Student Pilot Certificates

When do I need a student pilot certificate?

You need a student pilot certificate before undertaking any solo flight.

How do I obtain a student pilot certificate?

To obtain a student pilot certificate, you can submit an application through various authorized entities, such as an FAA Inspector or Technician, an FAA-Designated Pilot Examiner, a Certificated Flight Instructor, or an Airman Certification Representative (ACR) linked to a part 141 flight school. Once processed, the student pilot certificate will be mailed to the address provided on the application.

If I only want to be a sport pilot, how do I obtain a student pilot certificate?

Sport pilot applicants who intend to fly without a medical certificate but based on a valid driver's license will follow the same application process as applicants for any other certificate.

If I have had a medical certificate denied, can I just get a sport pilot certificate and fly based on my driver’s license?

No, the privilege of flying as a sport pilot based on a driver's license, instead of a medical certificate, is only available if your last FAA-medical was not denied.

Where can I get more information about the sport pilot arena?

For detailed information about the Sport Pilot Program, enthusiasts can visit the FAA's website at http://www.faa.gov/licenses_certificates/airmen_certification/sport_pilot/.

What are the requirements for a student pilot certificate?

To be eligible for a student pilot certificate, the individual must be at least 16 years old (or 14 years old for operating a glider or balloon) and possess the ability to read, speak, write, and understand the English language.

How long is my student pilot certificate valid?

Student pilot certificates are no longer issued with an expiration date. Any previously issued student pilot certificates remain valid until the expiration date on the certificate.

How long is my third-class medical certificate valid?

A third-class medical certificate is valid for 60 months if issued before your 40th birthday. If issued after age 40, it remains valid for 24 months.

Can my student pilot certificate be renewed?

No, student pilot certificates are not renewable. However, since they no longer have an expiration date, they remain valid indefinitely. If a student pilot has a paper certificate, they may apply to have a new plastic one issued.

Now that the plastic student pilot certificate is being issued, how will my instructor endorse me for solo and cross-country flights?

All required endorsements from an authorized instructor will now be entered directly into the student pilot's logbook.

If I solo in more than one make and model aircraft, must I have an endorsement for each?

Yes, your flight instructor must make a separate endorsement for each make and model aircraft in which you solo.

Does the endorsement to solo permit me to make solo cross-country flights?

No, your flight instructor must specifically endorse your logbook to permit cross-country flights.

Is there a charge for the student pilot certificate?

When the student pilot certificate application is processed by an FSDO, there is no charge. However, FAA-Designated Pilot Examiners, Certified Flight Instructors, and Airman Certification Representatives associated with a part 141 flight school may charge a reasonable fee for processing the application and necessary reports.

When do I need a medical certificate?

Except for sport pilot applicants, you will need a medical certificate before any solo flight if you are piloting an airplane, helicopter, gyroplane, or airship. Obtaining a medical certificate before beginning flight training is recommended to ensure awareness of any conditions that may prevent obtaining a medical certificate later on.

If required, how do I get a medical certificate?

You can obtain a medical certificate by passing a physical examination conducted by an FAA-Authorized Aviation Medical Examiner.

Where do I get my medical certificate?

You can get your medical certificate from any FAA-Authorized Aviation Medical Examiner, as there are numerous doctors who hold this authorization.

Where can I get a list of FAA-Authorized Aviation Medical Examiners?

The FAA provides a directory on the Civil Aeromedical Institute's website at http://www.faa.gov/pilots/amelocator/.

When required, what class of medical certificate must a student pilot have?

A student pilot must have a third-class medical certificate, although any class of medical certificate will suffice. Medical certificates are categorized as first-class, second-class, or third-class, each intended for different pilot categories.

Must I have my medical certificate when I am piloting an aircraft in solo flight?

Yes, you must have your medical certificate in your physical possession or readily accessible when piloting an aircraft in solo flight.

If I have a physical disability, is there any provision for obtaining a medical certificate?

Yes, medical certificates can be issued in many cases involving physical disabilities. Depending on the certificate held and the nature of the disability, certain operating limitations may be imposed. It is advisable to consult an FAA-Authorized Aviation Medical Examiner before commencing flight training if you have any questions.

Aviation Knowledge Tests

What is the age requirement to take the sport pilot, recreational pilot, or private pilot knowledge test?

An applicant must be at least 15 years of age to take the test, although applicants for the balloon or glider tests must be 14 years of age. Prior to taking the knowledge test, an applicant shall be asked to present a birth certificate or other official documentation as evidence of meeting the age requirement.

What aircraft can I fly as a sport pilot?

You are limited to flying an aircraft that meets the definition of a light-sport aircraft (LSA). An LSA is any certificated aircraft that meets the following performance parameters:

  • 1,320 pounds Maximum Gross Weight (1,430 pounds for seaplanes)
  • 45 knots (51 mph) Max Landing Configuration Stall
  • 120 knots (138 mph) Max. Straight & Level
  • Single or Two-seat Aircraft
  • Fixed Pitch or Ground Adjustable Propeller
  • Fixed Landing Gear (except for amphibious aircraft)
What are the restrictions on a sport pilot?

Sport pilots encounter operational restrictions that delineate their flight activities:

  1. Nighttime flights are proscribed.
  2. Venturing into controlled airspace necessitates prior training and a corresponding logbook endorsement.
  3. International flights necessitate advance authorization from the relevant country or countries.
  4. Engaging in sightseeing excursions with passengers for charitable fundraising is not permissible.
  5. Altitudes surpassing 10,000 feet MSL are off-limits.
  6. Flying in conditions where flight or surface visibility falls below 3 statute miles is prohibited.
  7. Continuous visual contact with the Earth's surface is indispensable for navigational reference.
  8. Operating Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) exceeding a maximum level flight speed (V) of 87 knots (100 mph) necessitates specialized training and an accompanying logbook endorsement.
  9. Activities inconsistent with the aircraft's issued operating limitations are disallowed.
  10. Contradictory actions to limitations detailed on the pilot's certificate, U.S. driver's license, FAA medical certificate, or logbook endorsements are forbidden.
  11. Transporting passengers or cargo for financial compensation is prohibited, precluding commercial operations.
How should I prepare for the FAA knowledge test?

In thorough anticipation of the forthcoming knowledge assessment, your instructor's task encompasses a comprehensive exploration of:

  • 14 CFR part 61, section 97 (if priming for the knowledge examination pertaining to recreational piloting),
  • 14 CFR part 61, section 105 (if orienting towards the knowledge evaluation for private piloting), or
  • 14 CFR part 61, section 309 (if directing efforts towards the knowledge appraisal tailored to sport piloting).

The regulatory stipulations necessitate that an aspirant should either have accrued instructional groundwork under the guidance of a duly authorized mentor or furnish substantiation of proficiently concluding a curriculum of education or self-study module encompassing the cognitive domains pertinent to the particular category and class of aircraft associated with the sought-after certification.

Which documents are requisite for submission before undertaking a knowledge examination?

An individual seeking to undergo a knowledge test must furnish pertinent personal identification. This identification should encompass an applicant's photograph, signature, and the precise residential address (if distinct from the mailing address). These particulars might be furnished through multiple formats. Additionally, the applicant is required to provide one of the subsequent documents:

  1. A certification of accomplishment from an FAA-endorsed aviation school or a pilot training program relevant to the desired certificate or rating, or an official statement from the institution validating the successful completion of the ground-school segment of such a program.
  2. A written declaration or a logbook endorsement issued by an FAA-Certified Ground or Flight Instructor, verifying the applicant's satisfactory fulfillment of applicable ground training or a self-directed study curriculum and readiness for the knowledge examination.
  3. A diploma or a declaration of achievement from a ground-school course fitting for the sought-after certificate or rating, offered by a recognized institution like a high school, college, adult education initiative, the Civil Air Patrol, or an ROTC Flight Training Program.
  4. A graduation certificate stemming from an aeronautical enterprise's home-study program. This certificate of completion should be congruent with the FAA's knowledge test pertinent to the targeted certificate or rating. Moreover, the aeronautical organization administering the study materials should include a comprehensive knowledge test, which can be assessed to validate the student's completion of the curriculum. Following the student's successful completion of the knowledge test, it is dispatched to the program provider for assessment by an FAA-Certified Ground or Flight Instructor. The instructor personally evaluates the test, verifying the student's grasp of the subject matter outlined in the program. Upon satisfactory performance, a graduation certificate is dispatched to the student.
  5. In the event of retesting following an unsuccessful attempt, the applicant must furnish the unsatisfactory Airman Test Report. Should the applicant opt to retest for an improved score, the satisfactory Airman Test Report must be surrendered to the overseeing test administrator.
If I fail the knowledge test, is there any way to determine the areas in which I need additional work, so I can study for a retest?

Yes. You will receive an Airman Test Report from the testing center. The test report will contain your test score and will also list topic and content descriptions for the areas in which you were deficient.

If I pass the knowledge test, will I receive the same information concerning areas in which I need additional work as I would if I failed the test?

Yes. (Refer to the previous answer.)

How long is a satisfactorily completed knowledge test valid?

2 years. A satisfactorily completed knowledge test expires at the end of the day of the 24th month after the month in which it was taken. If a practical test is not satisfactorily completed during that period, another knowledge test must be taken.

Aviation Practical Tests

Prior to taking the practical test, what aeronautical experience must I have?

The specific aeronautical experience requirements are outlined in 14 CFR part 61.

  1. 14 CFR 61, subpart J, section 313 for the sport pilot certificate requirements.
  2. 14 CFR part 61, subpart D, section 99 for the recreational pilot certificate requirements.
  3. 14 CFR part 61, subpart E, section 109 for the private pilot certificate requirements.
Must I provide the aircraft for my practical test?

Yes. An applicant must provide an airworthy aircraft with equipment relevant to the Areas of Operation required for the practical test.

What papers and documents must I present prior to my practical test?

The applicant will be asked to present:

  1. FAA Form 8710-1(8710.11 for sport pilot applicants), Application for an Airman Certificate and/or Rating, with the flight instructor’s recommendation.
  2. An Airman Test Report with a satisfactory grade.
  3. A medical certificate (not required for glider or balloon), and a student pilot certificate (Driver’s license or medical certificate for sport pilot applicants).
  4. The pilot logbook records endorsed for solo, solo cross-country (airplane and rotorcraft) and for the make and model aircraft to be used for the practical test. And
  5. A graduation certificate from an FAA-approved school (if applicable). The applicant will be asked to produce and explain the:
    1. aircraft’s registration certificate.
    2. aircraft’s airworthiness certificate.
    3. aircraft’s operating limitations or FAA-approved aircraft flight manual (if required);
    4. aircraft equipment list.
    5. required weight and balance data.
    6. maintenance records. And
    7. applicable Airworthiness Directives.
What pilot maneuvers are required on the practical test, and how will my performance of these operations be evaluated?

If a detailed explanation of the required pilot maneuvers and performance standards is desired, refer to either the sport pilot, recreational pilot, or private pilot Airman Certification Standards. The Airman Certification Standards may be downloaded free of charge from the Airman Testing website at http://www.faa.gov/training_testing/testing/test_standards/.

What is the minimum age requirement for a sport pilot certificate, recreational pilot certificate, or private pilot certificate?

An applicant must be 17 years of age. Although, applicants for the private pilot glider or free balloon rating may be 16 years of age.

When can I take the sport pilot, recreational pilot, or private pilot practical test?

14 CFR part 61 establishes the ground school and flight experience requirements for the recreational pilot certificate and private pilot certificate. However, your flight instructor can best determine when you are qualified for the practical test. Your instructor should take you through a practice practical test.

Where can I take the practical test?

Due to the varied responsibilities of the FSDOs, practical tests are given by pilot examiners designated by FSDOs. You should schedule your practical test by an appointment to avoid conflicts and wasted time. A list of examiner names can be obtained from your local FSDO.

Is there any charge for taking the practical test?

Since an FAA-Designated Pilot Examiner serves without pay from the government for conducting practical tests and processing the necessary reports, the FAA-Designated Pilot Examiner is allowed to charge a reasonable fee. However, there is no charge for the practical test when conducted by an FAA Inspector.

May I exercise the privileges of my pilot certificate immediately after passing my practical test or must I wait until I receive the actual pilot certificate?

Yes. After satisfactory completion of the private pilot practical test, the examiner will issue you a temporary airman certificate. This is a valid certificate that authorizes you to exercise the privileges of a private pilot with appropriate ratings and/or limitations. This is an interim certificate issued subject to the approval of the Federal Aviation Administration pending the issuance of your permanent certificate. You normally will receive your permanent certificate within 120 days.

Is there a charge for the pilot certificate?

No. There is no charge for any original certificate issued by the FAA: However, fees will be charged by the FAA-Authorized Aviation Medical Examiner for the medical examination and by the FAA-Designated Pilot Examiner for conducting the practical test. The FAA does charge to replace any pilot or medical certificate.