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Certificates and Documents (Private Pilot)


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is a U.S. government agency that regulates all aviation aspects in the United States.

The FAA is a part of the Department of Transportation (DOT). Their headquarters is located in Washington, DC.

The FAA also provides important information, regulations, and reference materials for all types of aviation student i.e. pilots, ATC, mechanics, etc., to include:

Further discussed in a later lesson.


Field Offices:

Under the FAA there are smaller field offices.

  • FSDO - Flight Standards District Office is a local field office of the FAA. Also called the FSDO, they deal with all types of aircraft, large and small and all things aviation. Some examples of what the FSDO does:

  • Reports of low flying aircraft

  • Licensing and certification for pilots, mechanics, repairmen, parachute riggers, and dispatchers.

  • Aircraft repairs and maintenance

  • Air carrier operations and certifications

  • FSS - Flight Standards Service promotes safe transportation by setting standards for airmen, air operators, surveillance, setting regulations, and airmen records.


Pilot Certificates

Each type of pilots certificate varies depending on the type of flying the person is seeking. 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.

Flight Schools


When training for a private pilot certificate, he or she may train under a part 61 or part 141 flight school.

Part 61:

Are the parts of the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) that set the minimum standards for flight training school’s. These schools are local flight schools used to train students on a one-on-one basis, and maybe be customized to the student’s schedule. 

  • Reasonable cheap training prices with the same or better results of a part 141 school.

  • Self-paced and flexible

  • International students (legal permanent resident or working) see: more information

  • Total flight hours

    • Minimum 40 flight hours or more for a Private Pilot License

    • 20 hours of flight instruction with a CFI

    • 10 hours of solo flight


Part 141:

Schools must seek approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to be certified. The school must also use an approved training curriculum, syllabus and training lessons, which creates a structured flight training school and career path.

  • Cost double the price or more than that of a part 61 school.

  • Accelerated flight training.

  • International students (non-resident, not working) see: more information

  • Total flight hours

    • Minimum 35 flight hours or more for a Private Pilot License


Medical Certificates

FAA Airman Medical Certificate is required for all pilots including student pilots to carry a medical certificate at all times, which allows the pilot to act as pilot in command (PIC) of an airplane.

During the medical examination, the AME is an FAA approved medical physician, which will test your vision, hearing, general health, cardiovascular, and have the applicate do a drug test. In addition, the AME will determine if the pilot applicate has any other conditions that will make the pilot incapacitated during flight.

There are three types of medical certificates:

  • Third class

    • Any pilot who flies for pleasure, not for hire.

    • Student pilots, recreational pilots, private pilots.

    • Under age of 40 – 60 months

    • Age 40 and older – 24 months

  • Second class

    • Required for pilots commercially, for hire.

    • Valid for 12 months

  • First class

    • Required for pilots with airline transport pilot (ATP) certificate, scheduled airline pilots.

    • Under age 40 – 12 months

    • Age 40 and older – 6 months.

The FAA says there is no minimum or maximum age to obtain an FAA medical certificate, anyone who can pass the exam may be issued a medical certificate. However, anyone under the age of 16 years old seeking a student pilot certificate is unlikely to use a medical certificate.

If a pilot wants to maintain his/her flying privileges, they must continue to see an AME at regular intervals.

Medical Expiration:

All medical certificates use calendar months. Calendar months is the period from the beginning of a month to the end of that same month.

So, if a pilot received a Second Class medical certificate on March 9, 2021, the privileges will expire at the end of the month on March 31, 2022. The privileges will drop down to Third Class privileges.  

Special Issuance:

A statement of Demonstrated Ability (SODA) is a wavier for individuals with a static defect that cannot be changed. Examples for a SODA is for a person that maybe blind in one eye, upper or lower limb amputees.

Part 68:

Under FAR Part 68, an FAA medical certificate is not required to operate small aircraft that are 1,320 pounds or less, which are Light Sport aircraft, under the sport flying regulations.



Private Pilot ACS PA.l.A.K1 - PA.l.A.K5

FAR Part 61.23, 61.102, 61.117

Pilot Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge (PHAK) (CH. 1)

Pilot Medical Certification Q&A  

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