I recently received my sport pilots license, (for more information about what the sport pilots license is click here), this spring and the excitement of the accomplishment has not yet worn off.
For me, this was the next step from flying ultralights and will allow me to fly E-LSA (experimental light sport aircraft), S-LSA (special light sport aircraft), take up one passenger, fly several types of planes that fall in to this classification as well as it opens the door to me for other flying possibilities like purchasing flight insurance. If you are interested in a low cost way to fly or if you are already flying ultralights and are ready to move to the next step, this is perfect solution. I thought I would share with you, some of the steps that I went through in obtaining my sport pilots license.
– Find a certified sport pilot instructor in your area.
If you are new to flying, the certified sport pilot instructor will work with you to ensure that you meet all the requirements needed to obtain a license. Jim Hill and Ann Meyer with Ultralight Aircraft of Iowa were, and continue to be, the people that helped me. Jim is a certified sport pilot instructor for light sport aircraft as well as a basic flight instructor for ultralights. He has been doing instruction for several years now specializing in ultralight flight instruction and now, sport pilot flight instruction for light sport aircraft.
It is important to find a flight instructor that will be patient, detailed, take the time to instruct and can explain things in a manner that can be understood. Jim does all of this and is a fantastic flight instructor. Ann has an incredible knowledge of the new sport pilot rules as well as knows what paper work must be completed, steps that transitioning ultralight pilots need to follow and a wealth of other knowledge pertaining to the sport pilot licensing. They are an incredible group of people to work with and continue to assist many others in providing guidance and flight instruction for a minimal fee.
– Basic Steps for obtaining the sport pilots license
1. Meet flight time and age/licencing requirements
2. Take the written exam
3. Take the practical exam (flight test and oral exam with flight examiner)
– Examine what time you need for flight instruction
You may have already noticed that I have a few links in this article to the web site, http://www.sportpilot.org. The Experimental Aircraft Association, EAA, hosts this site. EAA is an incredible organization that, if you are not a member of, you should become one. The sport pilot site has several pages that outline basic requirements needed to obtain your sport pilot license. They have the requirements broken down in to new sport pilots, current pilots, and ultralight pilots. You will want to confirm these requirements with your sport pilot instructor. If you are already an ultralight pilot and have been registered with one of the flight organizations like the United States Ultralight Association (USUA – this is a great organization to be a member of as well) or EAA, depending on when you were registered, some or all of the time that you have flying ultralights can be counted as flight time towards your sport pilots license!
– Get the needed flight time to meet flight-training requirements
This is variable based on whether you are new to flying or are already a registered ultralight pilot with USUA or EAA. Talk with your sport pilot instructor and/or with USUA or EAA if you are a registered ultralight pilot with one of these organizations. If you are taking any flight lessons, you will need to obtain your student certificate. Your flight instructor will assist you with this as well.
– Begin studying for the written test
There are several studying materials available for preparing for the sport pilots license. Along with instruction and guidance from a certified sport pilot instructor, here is a listing of what I used to prepare for the written and practical exams:
- “Sport Pilot Knowledge Test Course” from King Schools – This is a computer based set of interactive video CD-ROMS that contain a wealth of information. They break down the curriculum in a way that makes studying for the written and practical exams very enjoyable. With this set of CD’s you also get practice tests that look very close to the actual testing center tests. They also have a way in which you can obtain your endorsement from them to take the written exam.
- “Airplane Flying Book”
- “Sport Pilot Checkride”
- “Sport Pilot Practical Test Standards”
- “Ground School: Sport Pilot” from Dauntless Software – This is another self paced, low cost way to work through practice exams to prepare for written and oral exams.
– Obtain endorsement to take written exam and find testing center
When you are ready to take your written exam, you will need to obtain an endorsement from your sport pilot instructor or from other sources like the King Schools curriculum or online services that are available from companies like Dauntless Software.
Once you have an endorsement to take written exam, find a testing center near your location and schedule your test.
– Practical Test
Once you have passed the written exam and have met the flight training requirements, you will need take your practical flight and oral exam performed by a flight examiner. The book, “Sport Pilot Checkride”, as well as instruction from a live certified sport pilot instructor provided a lot of the preparation work for preparing for the flight test. All of the combined materials and resources I used were important for the oral exam.
Once I was ready for the practical test, Jim Hill (my sport pilot CFI) and Ann Meyer with Ultralight Aircraft of Iowa helped me find a great flight examiner, Dick Anderson located out of Eastern Iowa. The FAA has a listing of sport pilot flight examiners throughout the United States.
You should be able to work out arrangements with your flight examiner as to what their exam fee is, whether they will come to your location or if you have to go to their location, as well as specifics of how the exam will be done. When you schedule your practical exam time with the flight examiner, ensure that you have the proper paperwork and have met the specific requirements needed to take the practical exam. I would also suggest that you discuss with them how they perform their practical exam to make sure that you understand the examiners expectations ahead of time.
For my practical exam, Dick Anderson was willing to drive to my location to perform the practical flight exam. This enabled me to utilize one of aircraft that I was using for my flight training at Ultralight Aircraft of Iowa.
– Up and flying
That was it. Once the practical exam was over and I found out I passed, I was given a temporary sport pilots license and I was up and flying!
Now it is your turn! When anyone asks me what flying light sport aircraft and ultralights is like I tell them about what one of our Heartland Flyers Flight Club members, Mark Francois stated, “An hour of flying is like a week of vacation”
That really does sum it all up.