Sport Pilot

A sport pilot certificate is great for those looking for a cost-effective way to get into the air. The sport pilot certificate has reduced training requirements compared to the private pilot certificate. Additionally, pilots operating under a sport pilot certificate can use a valid US driver’s license in lieu of an FAA medical certificate. Pilots operating under a sport pilot certificate are limited to operating light sport aircraft (LSA) during daylight hours. If you decide to work towards a private pilot certificate, then the hours earned towards the sport pilot certificate will apply towards your new certificate!

Training Requirements

Training requirements for the Sport Pilot certificate are documented in 14 CFR part 61 subpart J. The bulleted list below is a summary of those requirements.

  • Must be at least 17 years of age at the time of the exam. Training can begin prior to that with no age minimum (although you must be at least 16 years old to fly solo)
  • Must be able to read, speak, write, and understand English
  • 20 hours of flight time
    • Including a minimum of 15 hours of training with a flight instructor
    • Including a minimum of 5 hours of solo flight training
    • 2 hours of cross-country flight training
    • Solo cross-country flight of at least 75 nautical miles total distance, with a full-stop landing at a minimum of two points and one segment of the flight consisting of at least 25 nautical miles between takeoff and landing locations
  • Completion of a written aeronautical knowledge test. Columbus Flying Club can provide ground instruction for this test and an FAA test center is conveniently located at the airport.
  • Completion of an oral and practical exam with a designated pilot examiner


FAA Minimum Requirements National Averages
Item Rate Hours Total Hours Total
Aircraft Rental $134 20 $2,680 35 $4,690
Flight Instruction $50 15 $750 20 $1,000
Sport Pilot Training Kit $124 $124 $124
Ground Instruction $40 3 $120 5 $200
Charts, Airport Facility Directory $40 $40 $40
FAA Written Exam $150 $150 $150
FAA Examiner’s Fee $400 $400 $400
Estimated Training Costs $4,264 $6,604

Rates subject to change.

Columbus Flying Club outlines the estimated cost of training, both based on the minimum number of hours required for training as well as the cost based on the national average of the hours taken to obtain the certification. While it is possible to obtain your license at the minimum 20 hours required, the national average to obtain a sports pilot certificate is 35 hours.