What’s the difference between the Sport Pilot License and the Private Pilot License?

What’s the difference between the Sport Pilot License and the Private Pilot License?

One of the biggest differences between the sport pilot and private pilot license is the number of hours required to obtain each license.  The Sport Pilot license only requires 20 hours of training while the Private Pilot license requires a minimum of 40 hours of training.  You could potentially pay half of what it costs to become a private pilot by just getting your sport pilot license.  But you do need to consider that the national average to obtain each license is close to double the minimum number of hours.  If you study hard and fly two to three times a week, you should have no problem obtaining your license with close to the minimum number of hours that are required. 

Czech Sport Cruiser



Cessna Skyhawk


I’ve listed a few differences between the sport and private pilot license below.  If you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments below.

  Sport Pilot Private Pilot
How many hours do I need to get my license? 20 Hours 40 Hours
What type of airplane can I fly? You will only be able to fly a light sport aircraft (LSA).  LSAs have a 1,320 lb max certified gross weight.  LSAs can only have two seats. You can fly just about any airplane that weighs up to 12,500 lbs and has a max hp rating of 200hp.  You can fly other types of aircraft with additional training.   
Can I fly an airplane with retractable landing gear? NO YES – With additional training.
How many passengers can I fly with? You can fly with a maximum of 1 passenger. More than 1 passenger.
Can I fly at night? NO – Not allowed to fly at night. YES
Where can I fly? You can fly in Class G or E airspace.  You can fly in Class B, C or D airspace after you receive special training and an endorsement from a flight instructor.  You are not allowed to fly in Class A Airspace. You can fly in any airspace except class A, unless you have an instrument rating.
Can I fly in the clouds or when the visibility is low? NO – You need to Maintain VFR Conditions NO – You need to Maintain VFR Conditions.   But you can fly in clouds and low vis condition if you have an Instrument Rating.
Medical Requirements BasicMed self-certification or FAA Medical. BasicMed self-certification or FAA Medical.  There are some restrictions if you go the self-certification route.
Can I fly outside of the United States NO YES

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