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Most Frequently Asked Questions


1. Q: Is it difficult to fly an aircraft?
A: No. It is not particularly difficult. As a beginning student pilot, you will do most of the
actual flying (handling the controls of the aircraft).

2. Q: When may I begin to fly?
A: Immediately. However, you will need to apply for certain certificates, as described in this
guide, in preparation for solo flight.

3. Q: Is flying safe?
A: A well-built and maintained aircraft, flown by a competent and prudent pilot, makes
flying as safe or safer than many other forms of transportation.

4. Q: If engine failure occurs, what will happen?
A: Modern aircraft engines are very reliable, and complete engine failure is a rare
occurrence. If the improbable does happen, you will not “fall out of the sky.” Just do
what the instructor had you practice during lessons— select a good landing area and
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Student Pilot Flight Training

1. Q: What are the eligibility requirements for a student pilot?
A: The specific aeronautical experience requirements are outlined in 14CFR part 61. For
the student pilot certificate requirements, refer to subpart C section 83.

2. Q: Where can I obtain my ground and flight school training?
A: Most airport operators can furnish this information, or you may contact the nearest

3. Q: Is there a set number of flight instructional hours I will receive before I solo?
A: No. The instructor will not allow you to solo until you have learned to perform certain
maneuvers. These maneuvers include safe takeoffs and landings. You must be able to
maintain positive control of the aircraft at all times and to use good judgment.

4. Q: What should I know about Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations(14 CFR) prior to
my first solo?
A: Your flight instructor will determine that you are familiar with appropriate portions of 14
CFR part 61, the general and visual flight rules of 14 CFR part 91, and will administer
and grade a pre-solo written test prior to solo endorsement. The pre-solo written test will
also include questions on the flight characteristics and operational limitations of the
make and model aircraft to be flown.

5. Q: What does an appropriate logbook endorsement for solo mean?
A: It means a verification by an authorized flight instructor showing that on the date
specified, the student was given the required instruction and found competent to make
solo flights.

6. Q: When is the first solo endorsement required?
A: A student pilot must have a first solo endorsement dated within 90 days prior to any solo

7. Q: What is the difference between a recreational pilot certificate and a private pilot
A: The recreational pilot has fewer privileges than the private pilot. The holder of a
recreational pilot certificate is allowed to fly an aircraft within 50 nautical miles from the
airport where instruction was received and cannot operate in airspace where
communications with air traffic control are required. Since qualification training in these
areas is not required, a person should be able to obtain a recreational pilot certificate in
fewer flight hours than required for a private pilot certificate. All privileges and
limitations of the recreational pilot certificate are listed in 14 CFR part 61, section 101.

8. Q: Where can I get information about the Sport Pilot Program?
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A: Sport pilot enthusiasts may find information on the FAA’s website at

9. Q: Does a student pilot automatically have the privilege of cross-country flying after
A: No. An instructor must have reviewed the pilot’s preflight planning and preparation for
solo cross-country flight and determine that the flight can be made safely under the
known circumstances and conditions. The instructor must endorse the student pilot’s
logbook prior to each cross- country flight, stating the pilot is considered competent to
make the flight. Under certain conditions, an instructor may authorize repeated solo
flights over a given route.

10. Q: As a student pilot, am I permitted to carry passengers prior to receipt of my recreational
pilot certificate or private pilot certificate?
A: No.

11. Q: Must I have a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) radiotelephone operator’s
permit to operate an aircraft radio transmitter?
A: No.

12. Q: For the purpose of obtaining an additional certificate or rating, may the holder of a
recreational pilot certificate act as pilot in command on flights: (1) between sunset and
sunrise; and (2) in airspace which requires communication with air traffic control?
A: Yes, provided an authorized flight instructor has given the recreational pilot the required
ground and flight training in these areas, and endorsed the pilot’s logbook. The
recreational pilot will be required to carry the logbook with the required endorsements
on such flights.

13. Q: How can the holder of a sport or recreational pilot certificate ensure that no inadvertent
entry is made into airspace requiring communication with air traffic control?
A: The pilot must select readily identifiable landmarks that are well beyond the boundaries
of the airspace requiring communication with air traffic control. During training,
instruction in identification of airspace requiring communication with air traffic control
will be provided.
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Student Pilot Requirements: Medical and Student Pilot Certificates

1. Q: When do I need a student pilot certificate?
A: Prior to solo flight.

2. Q: How do I obtain a student pilot certificate?
A: An application for a student pilot certificate may be processed by an FAA Inspector or
Technician, an FAA- Designated Pilot Examiner, a Certificated Flight Instructor, or an
Airman Certification Representative (ACR) associated with a part 141 flight school. The
authorized person will submit the application to the Airman Certification Branch in
Oklahoma City, OK. Once the application is processed, the student pilot certificate will
be mailed to the address provided on the application. The applicant will receive the
student pilot certificate by mail at the address provided on the application.

3. Q: If I only want to be a sport pilot how do I obtain a student pilot certificate?
A: Sport pilot applicants who intend to fly without attaining a medical, but who will fly on
the basis of a valid driver’s license will make application in the same manner as an
applicant for any other certificate.

4. Q: If I have had a medical certificate denied can I just get a sport pilot certificate and fly on
the basis of my driver’s license?
A: No, The only way to fly as a sport pilot on the basis of a driver’s license in lieu of a
medical certificate is if your last FAA-medical was not denied.

5. Q: Where can I get more information about the sport pilot arena?
A: Sport pilot enthusiasts may find information on the FAA’s website at

6. Q: What are the requirements for a student pilot certificate?
A: To be eligible for a student pilot certificate, a person must:
(1) be at least 16 years of age, except for the operation of a glider or balloon, in which
case the applicant must be at least 14 years of age; and
(2) be able to read, speak, write, and understand the English language.

7. Q: How long is my student pilot certificate valid?
A: The student pilot certificate are no longer issued with an expiration date. Any previously
issued student pilot certificates will remain valid until the expiration date on the

8. Q: How long is my third-class medical certificate valid?
A: A third-class medical certificate is valid for 60 months if you haven’t reached your 40th
birthday by the issue date. If issued after age 40, it is valid for 24 months.
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9. Q: Can my student pilot certificate be renewed?
A: No. However, there is no longer an expiration date for a student pilot certificate. If a
student pilot still has a paper certificate, the student may submit an application can to be
issued a new one.

10. Q: Now that the plastic student pilot certificate is being issued, how will my instructor
endorse me for solo and cross country flights??
A: All required endorsements from an authorized instructor are now required to be entered
into the student pilot’s logbook.

11. Q: If I solo in more than one make and model aircraft, must I have an endorsement for each?
A: Yes. Your flight instructor must make this endorsement prior to the first solo flight in
each make and model aircraft in your pilot logbook.

12. Q: Does the endorsement to solo permit me to make solo cross-country flights?
A: No. Your flight instructor must specifically endorse your logbook to permit cross-country

13. Q: Must I carry my student pilot certificate when I am piloting an aircraft in solo flight?
A: Yes. The certificate should be in your physical possession or readily accessible.

14. Q: Is there a charge for the student pilot certificate?
A: When the student pilot certificate application is processed by a FSDO there is no charge.
An FAA-Designated Pilot Examiner, a Certified Flight Instructor, and an Airman
Certification Representative associated with a part 141 flight school are allowed to
charge a reasonable fee for processing the application for student pilot certificates, and
processing the necessary reports..

15. Q: When do I need a medical certificate?
A: Except for sport pilot applicants, you will need a medical certificate prior to solo flight if
you are operating an airplane, helicopter, gyroplane, or airship. It is suggested you
obtain your medical certificate prior to beginning flight training. This will assure you are
aware of any condition that could prevent you from obtaining a medical certificate prior
to making a financial investment in flight training.

16. Q: If required, how do I get a medical certificate?
A: By passing a physical examination administered by a doctor who is an FAA-Authorized
Aviation Medical Examiner.

17. Q: Where do I get my medical certificate?
A: From any FAA-Authorized Aviation Medical Examiner. There are numerous doctors who
are FAA-Authorized Aviation Medical Examiners.
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18. Q: Where can I get a list of FAA-Authorized Aviation Medical Examiners?
A: The FAA lists a directory on the Internet on the Civil Aeromedical Institute’s website at

19. Q: When required, what class of medical certificate must a student pilot have?
A: Third-class, although any class will suffice. Medical certificates are designated as firstclass,
second-class, or third-class. Generally, the first-class is designed for the airline
transport pilot; the second-class for the commercial pilot; and the third-class for the
student, recreational, and private pilot.

20. Q: If I have a physical disability, is there any provision for obtaining a medical certificate?
A: Yes. Medical certificates can be issued in many cases where physical disabilities are
involved. Depending upon the certificate held and the nature of the disability, operating
limitations may be imposed. If you have any questions, contact an FAA-Authorized
Aviation Medical Examiner prior to beginning flight training.

21. Q: Must I have my medical certificate, when I am piloting an aircraft in solo flight?
A: Yes. The certificate should be in your physical possession or readily accessible.