Getting Your Sport Pilots License – update 2009

Getting Your Sport Pilots License – Update 2009

I received my sport pilots license in the Spring of 2006, (for more information about what the sport pilots license is click here), and since then I have received my private pilot rating and sport pilot certified flight instructor rating and am currently working on my instrument rating.

For those of you interested in going after the sport pilot rating, here is some information I felt is important.

In 2006, getting my sport pilots license was the next step from flying ultralights and allowed 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 and opened the door to me for other flying possibilities like purchasing flight insurance.

Here are the steps that I went through:

– 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. This includes, but is not limited to, flight instruction, ground instruction, all the paperwork, and many other services that a good flight instructor will offer to you.

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 sport pilot flight instruction for light sport aircraft.

When looking for a sport pilot flight instructor, 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 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.

Also, this Spring 2008, I joined Jim and Ann’s team along with another new isntructor, Chris Larsen as additional sport pilot flight instructors with Ultralight Aircraft of Iowa.

Basic Steps for obtaining the sport pilots license

1. Meet flight time and age/licensing 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, 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.

– Get the needed flight time to meet flight-training requirements

This is variable based on whether you are new to flying or if you already have some flight time. 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:

  1. Airplane Flying Book
  2. Sport Pilot Checkride
  3. Sport Pilot Practical Test Standards
  4. FAR / AIM
  5. Aviation Weather

Interactive learning materials:

  1. 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.
  2. Ground School: Sport Pilot from Dauntless Software – This is a self paced, low cost way to work through practice exams to prepare for written and oral exams. This is by far one of the best lo cost practice exam software available for preparing for any aviation written test. I have used it to prepare for my sport pilot, private pilot, fundamentals of instruction, sport pilot instructor/CFI tests and am currently using it to prepare for my instrument, commercial and CFI ratings.

– 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.

Remebering back to when I was getting my sport pilots license, 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!

I would also recommend joining the following groups:

  1. EAA
  2. AOPA

These groups share a wealth of knowledge to you as a student and sport pilot.

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.

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