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Each type of pilot certificates and ratings varies depending on the type of flying the person is seeking.

Types of Pilot Certificates are:

  • Student Pilot - Issued by an administrator or a flight instructor of a flight school. Received immediately when the student enrolls for flight training.

  • Sport Pilot - Only lets a pilot fly an airplane with a max gross takeoff weight of 1320 pounds or less. Is less expensive to get and a lot less time required.

  • Recreational Pilot - Leisure flying around the local area only, in an aircraft with 180 horsepower or less.

  • Private Pilot (PPL) - Most basic and popular, as well as being the prerequisite to start a flying career.

  • Commercial Pilot (CPL) - Allows a pilot to fly for hire and must have a minimum of 250 flight hours.

  • Air Transport Pilot (ATP) - Highest certificate issued to an airman. Must have a minimum of 1500 flight hours.

  • Instructor - CFI, CFII, MEI, AGI

Addition Rating:

  • Instrument Rating - Second step private pilots usually get in the process. Known as IFR it allows pilots to fly in inclement weather with limited visibility, such as rain and clouds.

  • Multi Engine - Second rating that can be attached to a Private, Commerical, or ATP. This allows pilots to fly an airplane with two or more engines.

  • Other ratings - Gliders, Balloon, Seaplanes, etc.

Every pilot’s certificate has privileges and limitations but may vary depending on the aircraft type and operation being conducted, such as under part 61 or part 91.

  • Privileges – means where and when a pilot can fly, who can they fly with and the type of aircraft they are allowed to fly.

  • Limitations – FAA may impose a limitation on a certificate, during flight training or a practical test, such as the pilot did not demonstrate all of the skills necessary to exercise all privileges, in category, class or type rating.

Endorsements are located in the back of all pilot logbooks. They are additional written authorization used to certify a certificate holder training in a specific skill area.

Endorsements are filled out, signed, and dated by an authorized certified flight instructor (CFI).

Private Pilot:

The Private Pilot Certificate is the most popular pilot license to get. A private pilot is someone who flies for pleasure and does not accept any compensation. Private pilots are allowed to fly passengers around without compensation; however, passengers may pay a pro rate for fuel, rental costs.

It marks a path for career-minded pilots to continue with advanced training to gain other certification in aviation and eventually be paid to fly.

  • Pilot must carry a minimum of an FAA third class medical certificate.

  • Pilots are not as restricted and are allowed to fly in certain conditions.

  • Allowed to fly not more than six people unpaid.

  • The aircraft is limited to no more than 12,500 pounds.

  • Total training flight hours a minimum of 40 flight hours.


The FAA requires these requirements to be accomplished for a Private Pilot Certificate, under Part 61.102 - 61.117

  • Be 17 years old to receive your pilot certificate.

  • Be 16 years old to fly solo.

  • Read, speak, and understand English.

  • Hold at least a third-class medical certificate for private and recreational certificates. Sport pilots must hold at least a current and valid U.S. driver’s license.

  • Received a logbook endorsement from an authorized instructor, who:

    • conducted training or has reviewed you home study in the areas in 61.105(b)​

    • Certified that the person is prepared for the required oral knowledge test.

  • Pass a written knowledge test with 70% or better.

  • Received flight training from an authorized instructor.

    • Conducted the training in the areas of operation listed in 61.107(b)

    • Certified that the person is prepared for the required practical test.

  • Meet the aeronautical experience requirements.

  • Pass a practical test.

  • Comply with appropriate sections of this part

  • Hold a U.S. student pilot certificate, sport pilot certificate, or recreational pilot certificate.

Privileges and Limitations:

As a Private Pilot you are limited to:​​

  • Not allowed to fly any aircraft for hire as PIC (Pilot in Command) carrying passengers or property for compensation or hire.

  • A private pilot may act as pilot in command of a charitable, nonprofit, or community event flight.

  • May be reimbursed for aircraft operating expenses such as: fuel, oil, airport expenditures, or rental fees.

  • Act is an aircraft salesman and must have at least 200 hours of logged flight time, can demonstrate an aircraft in flight to a prospective buyer.


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