For decades, thousands of pilots across the United States have participated in the fun and exciting activity of flying. On any given day at any local General Aviation airport, one can observe hobbyists flying experimental and even home-built aircraft. Some aircraft may have resembled their larger, popular single engine counterparts, while others may have looked like something out of a 1950's sci-fi movie. Many pilots even fly their own creations. This type of aircraft gives pilots opportunities to embrace flying in its most basic form. The benefits these pilots experience include inexpensive operating and maintenance costs, freedom to fly in great weather in low traffic areas, and the opportunity to become involved in numerous aviation clubs and organizations.
While the enthusiasm for flying these machines existed, a viable alternative to the private pilot certificate did not. The FAA attempted to solve the problem with a Recreation Pilot Certificate. While the FAA's intentions meant well, often recreation pilots found regulations to be limiting. One of the biggest downsides recreation pilots faced was being required to obtain a 3rd class medical certificate. Pilots in training were held to standards far exceeding what was deemed necessary to safely and competently pilot a recreation aircraft. Most recreation pilots found themselves close enough to Private Pilot Standards, so they simply upgraded their certificate. Due to its unpopularity, less than 1% of pilots hold a recreation certificate.
The FAA determined there needed to be a change. In 2005, the Sport Pilot Certificate was created. This new certification finally gave pilots a clear alternative to obtaining a Private Pilot Certificate. A new class of aircraft was also created for these pilots called Light Sport Aircraft (LSA). Training became simplified and pilots no longer were required to obtain a medical.
Thanks to the efforts of the FAA and numerous sport aircraft advocacy groups and associations, you now have the opportunity to join this incredible and ever expanding world of Light Sport Aircraft. Challenging yourself to learn how to fly could be one of the most fulfilling and rewarding experiences of your life. If you want to fly on a budget, have no plans to obtain a medical certificate, or simply have interest in flying light sport aircraft, the sport pilot certificate may be the perfect opportunity for you.