Sport Pilot

Pursuing a sport pilot certificate is the quickest way to get up in the air.

At half the cost of a private pilot, a sport pilot’s certificate also takes half the time. This certificate can be accomplished in as little as 20 hours of flight training with the average completion being just over 30 hours. This includes additional endorsements to fly in Centennial Airport’s complex airspace. At Aspen Flying Club, all students learn to be comfortable in controlled airspace environments, giving each graduate the qualifications and confidence to fly anywhere their certificate allows.

Sport pilots can rent aircraft from Aspen Flying Club and fly them anywhere in the US. Many sport pilots fly for a couple years, and then decide to move on to the private pilot so they can fly bigger or faster airplanes, and more passengers. Fortunately the transition from sport to private is very easy. All flight hours as a sport pilot count towards the total experience (private, commercial, ATP). The only additional training needed to make the conversion is to learn radio navigation, and log some night and simulated instrument time. Transitioning to a private pilot certificate does involve another written and practical test. There is also the option to do our combined Private/Instrument course, which is the most affordable way to become a really accomplished pilot.

What are the limitations?

Sport Pilots are qualified to fly any light sport aircraft (LSA). Light sport aircraft can have a maximum of two seats, so you’ll be able to carry one passenger. Holders of sport pilot certificates can only fly during the day time (no night flying). Similar to private pilots, sport pilots can only fly on fair weather days.

What’s involved in flight training?

Sport Pilot training involves two main components – ground school and flight training. Ground school is accomplished either in a classroom or through a home study course. The ground school covers all of the information that all pilots need to know, but are not easily taught in the air. Topics covered during ground school include: regulations, airplane systems, navigation, aerodynamics, weather theory, and radio communications.

Typically 3-hour lessons are scheduled during which students will log an hour to an hour and a half of flight time. Each lesson is structured to cover the specific maneuvers needed to master in order to earn a certificate. This prepares each student to be able to take both the written and practical tests. Being a certified pilot is achieved upon successful completion of these two tests.

How long does it take?

That’s very much dependent on each student. Flying regularly and studying at home substantially shortens the amount of time in the air and time with an instructor on the ground. Flying a minimum of two, 3-hour lessons per week, a student can expect to have their certificate in approximately 3 months.

How much will it cost?

Cost is also very dependent on the student. If a student flies regularly, and is able to complete the syllabus in the minimum time specified by the FAA, the cost will be less. Here’s a breakdown based on the minimum requirements:

  Minimum Hours Typical Hours
  Hours Cost Hours Cost
LSA Aircraft @ $104/hour 20 $2,080 33 $3,432
Flight Instructor ($55/hour) 25 $1,375 35 $1,925
Ground School Course** 36 $300 36 $300
Ground School Materials (Jeppesen Kit Recommended)   $199   $199
Pilot Necessities (headset, fuel tester, and other necessary items)   $179   $179
FAA Knowledge Test   $150   $150
FAA Medical   Not required   Not required
Airplane Rental for Check-ride 1.5 $156 1.5 $156
FAA Examiner Fee for Check-ride 1 $550 1 $550
Total   $4,989   $6,891

* These prices are just an estimate. Actual costs will vary on an individual basis depending on different learning styles and the proficiency and preparation of the pilot.

** Optional

What are the Prerequisites?

To begin you’ll need:

  • Course Training Materials (Jeppesen Kit Recommended)
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or TSA approval

Prior to your first solo flight, you’ll need:

  • FAA issued Student pilot certificate

Before your final checkride, you will need to:

  • Have a minimum of 20 hours flight time – including 15 hours of flight instruction and 5 hours of solo flight time.
  • Pass the FAA Sport Pilot written exam
  • Learn basic flight maneuvers, take offs and landings, cross country flying, pilotage, dead reckoning, VOR and GPS navigation
  • Learn aeronautical decision-making, safety of flight considerations, basic aviation weather information, basic aerodynamics, and airport operations
  • Pass a Knowledge (written) test
  • Pass a Practical (oral and flight) test
  • Have either a valid US State drivers license or a current 3rd class or higher Airman Medical Certificate