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Certification FAQ's

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Fly Big Bend is fully qualified to provide flight instruction for any airplane pilot certificate from Sport through Commercial. Sport Pilot training offers the best value at the lowest possible cost.

What type of aircraft may I fly as a Sport Pilot?
As a sport pilot, you may fly any Light Sport Aircraft for which you have received appropriate training and certification.  Most new pilots learn to fly in airplanes.  Adding a different aircraft type, such as a Glider or Trike, has been greatly simplified.

What is a Light-Sport Aircraft (LSA)?
LSA airplanes are defined by the numbers that follow. Plain and simple.
Maximum gross takeoff weight 1,320 lbs
Maximum stall speed 51 mph
Maximum level flight speed at sea level 138 mph
(Higher max speeds attainable at altitude!)
Single or two-seat only
Single, reciprocating engine
Fixed or ground-adjustable propeller
Unpressurized cabin
Fixed landing gear

What are the basic training requirements to become a New Sport Pilot in an airplane?
Log 20 hours total flight time, including dual and solo.
Pass FAA knowledge exam (i.e. written test)
Pass FAA practical exam (i.e. flight check)

Note: Sport Pilot flight time counts toward more advanced pilot certificates and ratings, so if/when you decide to upgrade (i.e.  more seats, more engines, night flight, instrument flight) transition to the next level follows a logical progression.

Exising Private Pilots may fly as Sport Pilots in Sport-Pilot-eligible aircraft simply by meeting Sport Pilot medical and flight review requirements.  It really is that simple; you’re already qualified, and you probably do not need a medical exam. (see Medical Considerations below)

Are there any travel limitations?
Not really.  After receiving appropriate training for the type of travel you want to do, as a Sport Pilot you may freely travel to domestic destinations just like other pilots.

Carrying passengers for hire requires a Commercial Pilot Certificate or higher, and Sport Pilots cannot fly in furtherance of a business. However, personal business travel is allowed. 

Sport Pilots may fly in the daytime only. Note:  We recommend against single-engine night flight regardless of your certificate or experience! Legally speaking, LSA’s may be operated at night if the aircraft is properly equipped and certified, and the pilot holds at least a Private Pilot certificate and a minimum of a third-class medical. 

Sport Pilots may fly up to 10,000’ above sea level.  Optimal power for cruise performance is normally calculated at 8,000’, so Sport Pilots may take good advantage of their airplane’s capability

Tell me more about Light Sport Aircraft and availability!
Sport Pilots (including Private Pilots flying under Sport Pilot rules) may fly vintage production aircraft that meet the definition of Light-Sport Aircraft. (refer to the “numbers” above) Examples include the Piper J-3 Cub, and most Aeronca, Taylorcraft, Luscombe, Ercoupe, etc. Many of the post WWII trainers are Sport Pilot eligible. Sorry, no Cessnas... yet!

Brand new LSA’s may be certified as compliant with industry consensus standards. These aircraft are factory built and sold ready-to-fly. They may be used for sport and recreation, flight training, and aircraft rental. The market is experiencing a spike in prices because demand is outpacing supply.  The sum of materials, labor, and marketing costs remains significantly lower than today’s sales prices.  We expect new airplane prices to come down as more manufacturers introduce competitive solutions. Watch for offerings from companies like Van’s Aircraft, RANS, Cessna and others.

LSA’s which are a copy of the ready-to-fly models may be licensed Experimental Light-Sport Aircraft (E-LSA). Aircraft under this certification may be used only for sport and recreation and flight instruction for the owner of the aircraft.  (Note:  Fly Big Bend is taking advantage of an exemption which allows us to temporarily use our E-LSA Rans S-12XL for commercial flight training through January 31, 2010) The advantage is lower purchase price and less expensive maintenance.

Many Experimental Amateur-Built aircraft meet the definition of Light Sport Aircraft.  In our opinion, this is the most exciting segment in aviation.  Advances in the kitplane industry over the past five years, and the flexibility of this type of certificate open a wide range of possibilities. Translation: Easy-to-build kit aircraft like Vans RV-12, Rans S-19, Zenith 601XL, and Sonex/Waiex are, or promise to be, American-made, sleek, sexy, all-metal aircraft with excellent performance (speed) and remarkably low cost.  The ability to significantly shrink the world has become available to anybody who can hold a job and a driver’s license

Medical Considerations:
Generally, sport pilots are allowed to use their state driver’s license to establish medical fitness. They must follow any restrictions or limitations listed on their driver’s license. In addition, every pilot from sport pilot to airline transport pilot must determine before each flight that he or she is medically fit to operate their aircraft in a safe manner. As a pilot, it is your responsibility to ensure that your current medical health in no way jeopardizes the safety of a flight.

Existing pilots, including previous student pilots, who have had their FAA medical certificate or most recent application denied, revoked, withdrawn, or suspended by the FAA, are not allowed to operate using their driver’s license until they clear the denial from their airman record by having a valid third class medical certificate issued.


The text above is not intended to be all inclusive.  For additional information or for answers to specific questions e-mail us, or visit

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