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Thread: Getting my Sport Pilot Certificate, Start to Finish

  1. #1

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    Getting my Sport Pilot Certificate, Start to Finish

    Hi :-)

    Below are some assumptions and questions I have about what is required to get my sport pilot ticket. I have essentially no flying experience now.


    As I understand it, at some point before I solo, I'll need to complete an 8710-11 to become a student sport pilot and present this to either the FSDO, a DPE, or an SPE. It would be a simple matter of filling out the form and providing ID to the DPE, no medical exam. The local flight school does not have an LSA. They said I'd have to have a 3rd class medical before taking their lessons. I thought that would be necessary only if I were to solo?

    It is also my understanding that any dual instruction taken in non-LSA, like a 172, would count towards my sport pilot certificate.



    I'm considering instruction by a private CFI not affiliated with any flight school. Would he be legally able to teach a student like myself, going from zero hours up to the check ride? Does he need any other types of FAA documentation, or can any regular CFI do all that is necessary?


    I plan to home school myself for the ground school part as much as possible. I'm confused by how the knowledge tests work. Seems like there's two of them. There is mention of a 'presolo knowledge exam' according to 61.87. Judging by the student pilot guide, http://www.faa.gov/licenses_certificates/airmen_certification/sport_pilot/media/student_pilot _guidance.pdf, it looks like this can be endorsed by my CFI. I could simply bone up on the ground school material, then my CFI would quiz me on it to see if I know the material. Once I show him I do know the material, he'd give me the 'presolo knowledge exam' endorsement.


    There is also reference to a knowledge test in 61.35. This looks like it's the 'written test' for the sport pilot. My CFI could endorse me, saying I've got what it takes to take this test. I'd take this test at any testing center listed at http://www.faa.gov/training_testing/testing/airmen/media/test_centers.pdf


    An alternative to having my CFI give me the written exam endorsement, I could take an online course, like this one from Gleim: http://www.gleim.com/aviation/online_courses/ogs.php?ogs=SP#panel_tab=General&panel_link=Overvi ew I talked with Gleim rep, who said upon completing the course, I'd be able to print out a form that would allow me to take the written test at a testing center.


    So it looks like there are two 'knowledge tests'. One is a 'presolo knowledge exam', which is done between me and my CFI. The other is the 'knowledge test' mentioned in 61.35, which is taken at a testing center.


    Before I solo, I would need the 'presolo knowledge' endorsement. Would I also need to pass the written test before soloing?


    My CFI would teach me how to fly in his LSA, providing me with endorsements as would be appropriate, the final one allowing me to take the practical sport pilot test, aka check ride. How does the check ride work? Could I use whatever LSA I want, which might be my CFI's, if that's the only one I train in?


    Who could give me the check ride and would I be able to take this at any nearby airport?

    I may get insurance before starting lessons, depending on the CFI's coverage. I've heard that most flight school policies don't cover the student in solo, so I'd likely get insurance before this.

    Anything else I otta consider?



    Thanks!
    Dan Morehouse

  2. #2

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    I got my Sport ticket last year...

    As I understand it, at some point before I solo, I'll need to complete an 8710-11 to become a student sport pilot and present this to either the FSDO, a DPE, or an SPE. It would be a simple matter of filling out the form and providing ID to the DPE, no medical exam.
    That's true; your CFI should be able to take care of it by having a DPE sign off on it.

    The local flight school does not have an LSA. They said I'd have to have a 3rd class medical before taking their lessons. I thought that would be necessary only if I were to solo?
    It's right that you have to have a medical to solo a non-LSA aircraft; they want you to get it before you start in case you're failed, as once you're busted, you're busted.

    It is also my understanding that any dual instruction taken in non-LSA, like a 172, would count towards my sport pilot certificate.
    It will; however, I don't recommend training in a 172 for a Sport Pilot ticket. You'll have to do your check ride in an LSA, and they handle quite differently.


    I'm considering instruction by a private CFI not affiliated with any flight school. Would he be legally able to teach a student like myself, going from zero hours up to the check ride? Does he need any other types of FAA documentation, or can any regular CFI do all that is necessary?
    This is what I did, as I had to find a CFI with an LSA. Any CFI can train for SPL, but you want a PPL CFI to do your training, as if you decide to go PPL all the training will count; if the instructor is a SPL CFI, it won't (currently, they're trying to fix the regs).



    I plan to home school myself for the ground school part as much as possible. I'm confused by how the knowledge tests work. Seems like there's two of them. There is mention of a 'presolo knowledge exam' according to 61.87. Judging by the student pilot guide,
    There are two tests. The pre-solo test is given by the CFI, and produced by the CFI - it's just to verify you know enough to go around the patch three times by yourself. It consists of basic knowledge of your aircraft and procedures.

    The second test is the formal FAA test. I got the Gleim Sport Pilot Ground School kit and studied on my own. Your CFI will quiz you on stuff that will be on the test to make sure you've studied and know enough to pass and sign you off to go take it.

    You'll take the solo test and solo before taking the written FAA test.

    I took mine at a center with the electronic test, which is pretty slick. Twenty questions and done; the results are printed out on the spot. DON'T LOSE IT.


    My CFI would teach me how to fly in his LSA, providing me with endorsements as would be appropriate, the final one allowing me to take the practical sport pilot test, aka check ride. How does the check ride work? Could I use whatever LSA I want, which might be my CFI's, if that's the only one I train in?
    The check ride should be in an LSA you are fully familiar with and trained in!

    The check ride is in two parts, the oral and the practical. Expect an hour or two on the oral, where the evaluator will cover pretty much everything in the written with some other stuff thrown in about your particular aircraft - weight and balance, max gross, etc. If you have been paying attention and know how to read a sectional, navigate, read weather reports, etc. it's no sweat.

    The practical covers all the skills you've learned in training - stalls, slow flight, ground reference maneuvers, emergency procedures, diversion from a planned course, etc. You can dig up the standards and skills to demonstrate on the web. Relax and have fun with it; the guy isn't there to fail you - he just wants to make sure you're competent enough not to kill yourself and your passenger.


    Who could give me the check ride and would I be able to take this at any nearby airport?
    A certified DPE; he'll usually come to you, as it's best to work from your home field.

    I may get insurance before starting lessons, depending on the CFI's coverage. I've heard that most flight school policies don't cover the student in solo, so I'd likely get insurance before this.
    You can get renter's insurance through the EAA or the AOPA - but talk to your CFI, as their plane usually has a rider for students (mine did).

    Anything else I otta consider?
    Money and time. Work out how much it going to cost and how you're going to pay for it. My SPL cost around 6K - from ground school kit to gas to the airport to exams to plane and CFI rental. Budget for 30 hours of dual instruction.

    Time is important, as the more you fly the quicker and better the training. I flew twice a week, weather allowing, That kept things fresh in my head without burning me out, and I count that as the main reason I got my little rectangle of plastic in 26 hours.

    Don't try to eat the whole elephant at once. Concentrate on the next task in front of you, and arrive prepared to do that task. If the next lesson is ground reference manuevers, read up on them and know what's expected before you get there. Your CFI is going to walk you through it in the air anyway, but you'll save a lot of time and frustration if he isn't talking Greek to you in the cockpit.

    If you and your CFI aren't connecting, find another one. I switched CFI's after my first two hours because we just weren't in synch. It's no harm, no foul, and he was probably glad I switched instructors. We are on very good terms, and he was very pleased to find out I got my wings. It's just that his personality and style of teaching didn't match my needs - he's very reserved and subtle and I need someone that is a bit sarcastic and blunt to drive points home!


    The opinions and statements of this poster are largely based on facts and portray a possible version of the actual events.

  3. #3
    rosiejerryrosie's Avatar
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    Frank has provided excellent answers to all your questions. I know it all seems a bit daunting at this point - it did for me. But, when you get to the point of jumping each hurdle, you will find that all your concern was for naught. It is really fun and you will have no problems reaching your goal. The thing I dreaded the most was my check ride, and it proved to be anti-climatic. We met at my home airport, and while eating breakfast sandwiches (provided by my CFI) the examiner and I talked airplanes. We looked at a chart together and he went over my pre-flight planning. When I pointed out that we would not be able to fly the flight that he asked me to plan because the airplane we were flying was not equipped with a transponder, he said "well lets just go to the practice area and you can show me what you can do". A couple of S turns over an interstate, some slow flight, my answering his questions as to what I would do if the engine quit, a couple of landings and a go around and my check ride was finished and I drove home as a pilot! All the sweating was much worse than the checkride. (Of course, it probably helped that I had passed the knowledge exam with a 100% score - so don't short cut your brainwork) Good luck and remember the prime directive - "HAVE FUN'.
    Cheers,
    Jerry

    NC22375
    65LA out of 07N Pennsylvania

  4. #4

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    I agree, Jerry. Frank answered all my questions nicely. Thanks, Frank.
    Dan Morehouse

  5. #5

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    Oh, and one more thing - there's going to be a big problem at some point in your training that is going to frustrate you.

    It's different for everyone!

    For me it was crosswinds, and the whole syllabus went on hold when it became clear that I was having problems with true (more than 45 degree) xwinds and needed serious work on them. My solo was delayed by three hours because of them - a wise decision on the part of my instructor and a huge confidence buster for me.

    Finally the lightbulb went off and it suddenly became no problem, and in fact I like the challenge of a good crosswind now!

    For others it's navigation - I know a guy who had real problems finding his way from A to B, or even A to A when he got away from the airfield - or communications or something.

    Both the solo and the checkride are anti-climatic. It's a no brainer to go around the patch three times by yourself if you are okay in pattern work....indeed, I was having so much fun not having to worry about a Right Seat Emergency chopping my throttle or informing me of a fire or soemething that I got another touch as a reward for chuckling at the end of my radio calls.

    Before the checkride you'll have three hours of checkride prep with your instructor where he'll run you through the practical tasks and treat each one as if it were the checkride itself. I got an extra hour of solo homework time on short field landings before we called for the evaluator, which truthfully I needed (and still practice every time I fly; I try to make every one a short field with embarrisingly mixed results).

    Anyhow, the checkride itself was easy enough as I was just doing stuff I had been doing anyway - just with a different guy in the right seat to watch me do it. Heck, he was less strict in his standards than my instructor, which is as it should be.
    The opinions and statements of this poster are largely based on facts and portray a possible version of the actual events.

  6. #6

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    Dan, first I tried to write you a detailed reply from my 32 years as a pilot, but this forum gave me a message that it could or would not post because "the token has expired" whatever that b s means. What a waste of my time.

    Frankly, reading your topic, you askeds some good questions. But writing on this forum is not going to make you a pilot, you have to get up and really do it.

    Maybe I am a little dubious, but you remind me of a friend of mine who could not operate a roll of toilet paper without reading the instructions including the fine print.

    Unless money or a health issue is a problem, I'd go for the private, not just the sport or LSA. Why do the whole effort of spring football training and end up as the guy who only holds the ball for the place kicks?

    Go do it, and good luck. To me it is a lot of fun, and not really hard. I did have a couple of advantages that may not apply to everyone; I was older, a very good reader, not limited on time or budget when I was a student.
    Last edited by Bill Greenwood; 03-03-2012 at 05:42 PM.

  7. #7

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    Unless money or a health issue is a problem, I'd go for the private, not just the sport or LSA. Why do the whole effort of spring football training and end up as the guy who only holds the ball for the place kicks?
    Because spending twice the money for skills one will only lose is stupid?

    If one is only flying daytime VFR by themselves or with a partner and is doing it for pure recreation, let the PPL's pump up their chests and act like they're the "real" pilots and you're only good for "holding the ball for place kicks."

    Use the money on avgas - it's better than an ego.
    The opinions and statements of this poster are largely based on facts and portray a possible version of the actual events.

  8. #8

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    Frank, the site cut out my long reply, but to answer you. I didn't say anything about a sport pilot not being a real pilot: But does he really want to go through the training perhaps 85% of what a private pilot covers , and then have sport pilot rating with all his time in an LSA, and therefore he is rated to fly perhaps 5% of the airplanes and excluded both legally and by insurance norms from flying the other 95% of the airplanes solo, without a further rating of private.

    And I said that IF money or a medical issue was not a problem,and I know well that for most people spending $8000 to $10,000 is a big thing.

    It has nothing to do with "pump up their chest", just as being a pilot or not, has anything to do with a person's character.One of the most skilled and celebrated war hero and test pilots is widely considered to be a major jerk as a person.

    I also don't think it cost twice as much just to add the extra 6 to 9 hours to cover the private items above the sport. For the study for the written, the dvd course from King Schools is exactly the same cost, $279 whether sport or private.
    I certainly have not forgotten the vor lessons that I got as a student. And I don't consider it "stupid" . At the time I did my training as a student, I had no idea that what I would be flying or where I would be flying later and today where I need and use cross country, lot's of vor work and some night flying.

    And if he can find a Cub or a Champ to train in it would meet both normal and LSA catgegory, and the older plane may be well cheaper to rent than a brand new $125,000 LSA.

    To use your word, I think it may be "stupid" to sell ones self short when you begin training,and I am glad I didn't so that to myself 32 years ago or let anyone else talk me down into learning less than I could.
    Last edited by Bill Greenwood; 03-04-2012 at 11:51 AM.

  9. #9

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    It goes to your assumption that a Sport Pilot is medically unfit to be a PPL or is too poor to pay for the training, or else he wouldn't "sell himself short."

    That's flat out wrong.

    I'm in perfect health and have the money to get a PPL, but didn't. Why not? Because I won't ever fly at night, carry more than one passenger, or fly a plane that isn't in the LSA criteria. It doesn't fit into my aviation mission profile, so why would I pay for skills I will never use and just lose through disuse.

    The Champ I fly currently isn't rated for instrument flight. My homebuilt will be rated only for daytime VFR and fall under LSA rules. Did I sell myself short? I don't think so.

    However, if I desire to get a PPL, it's a quick trip to the doc, pick up on the training at instruments with a CFI, take the PPL written, and a check ride. The solo cross countries will be taken care of by regular flying; I'll just need to do the night stuff. No money wasted; indeed, I think I'd hit the 40 hour total training time pretty close to the mark, as I'd be an experienced pilot picking up new skills.

    Instead I'll put that money into some acro training, which will make me a more precise pilot.

    Of course tone is all lost on the Internet, and we could just be talking past each other....
    The opinions and statements of this poster are largely based on facts and portray a possible version of the actual events.

  10. #10

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    Frank, I looked up more info on the sport pilot rating, and at least in theory you may be right that you can save perhaps half the price.There is a place in Sarasota that advertises 20 hours sport training for $3800, and 40 hours private training for about twice that.

    But that is only the training, only a guarantee of that amount of training for that price, no certainty of a rating. If you need more training, you have to pay for it and airplane rental of $110 per hr for an LSA, so that part is not cheap.

    In the real world is sport bringing new people into flying,and is it saving them money? Aopa says the average age of new private students is 47, and new sport 61! So we aren't getting new young people in, even with sport.

    It looks like sport pilot allows cross country flying, only excludes night and IMC, and above 10,000. So, not so bad. I haven't used the night part of my training that much,but it is handy sometimes like a clear moonlit night. And if you are going to fly a lot of cross country, it sure makes it easier if you can handle some IMC or near IMC and don't have to stay on the ground anytime there is a broken layer of clouds, or bounce along under them.

    I don't see how, at the start of your pilot career, you can know for certain that you are always only going to fly a Champ, in the daytime, and with no more than one passenger.
    Let's say you become friends with some people at your airport who own a Stearman or in my case two T-6s and sometime in the future you have a chance to fly them, as I did. What if the owner and his wife and/or child need to be dropped off or picked up in a nearby town and they will let you use their 182 or similar? Do you say, sorry , that's not in "my mission"?

    Glad to hear you are taking acro lessons, but surprised. You might train or have a chance to fly something other than a Champ. The vast majority of pilots, even EAA ones don't have an acro rating.

    And I was writing to make suggestions for Dan starting out, not to judge what you have already done. I think you are a whole step in the right direction by learning in the Champ over a 172. And how many hours did you use to get the sport rating, did you come close to 20? There are a few "instructors" around here who will drain a new student pilot for 20 hours before he even gets to solo a 172.

    For me, I enjoy learning new things about flying, within reason, and I think the learning itlself is fun.
    And one of the real interesting things in flying is trying a new airplane, most all of them. I was particularly impressed with the T-6(SNJ,Harvard) , but also enjoyed a recent flight in a new Gobosh LSA.
    I don't want to limit myself to exclude the other 95% of planes in the world besides LSA.s including some of the most fun to fly.
    Last edited by Bill Greenwood; 03-04-2012 at 07:18 PM.

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