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Custom content for the Nov. 5, 2010, 'AOPA ePilot' newsletterCustom content for the Nov. 5, 2010, 'AOPA ePilot' newsletter

The following stories from the Nov. 05, 2010, edition of AOPA ePilot were provided to AOPA members who expressed an interest in the particular subject areas. Any AOPA member can receive information tailored to their areas of interest by updating their preferences online

- My ePilot—Light Sport Aircraft Interest -

Sport pilot solution: Is it right for you?

Interested in becoming a sport pilot and/or owning your own light sport aircraft (LSA)? Attend AOPA Aviation Summit, Nov. 11 through 13 to learn about LSA. In “The Sport Pilot Solution: Is it Right for You?” on Nov. 11 from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., learn how you can benefit from this groundbreaking set of regulations. Ask an expert panel about flying as a sport pilot, including tips for buying and maintaining an LSA. Register for Summit today, and plan your schedule.

training tips

An ‘authorized instructor’

Here’s a question that comes up regularly, even though the answer is not difficult to research, and is based on common sense. On this occasion it surfaced in a thread in the AOPA Aviation Forums, and the questioner was a student pilot.

The student asked, “…if I'm still a student pilot, does that mean I can only fly with a CFI and the hours count only if I fly with a CFI? Can a non-CFI (like I fly with a pilot friend) give instruction in a plane and the hours count towards my license…?”

How would you find the answer to the question?

In the section of Part 61 of the federal aviation regulations on pilot logbooks, there is language stating that “a person may log training time when that person receives training from an authorized instructor in an aircraft, flight simulator, or flight training device.” Other regulatory provisions mandate what the training entries must contain, and that they be “endorsed in a legible manner by the authorized instructor.”

FAR 61.109 defines eligibility for the private pilot certificate, including “at least 40 hours of flight time that includes at least 20 hours of flight training from an authorized instructor and 10 hours of solo flight training in the areas of operation listed in §61.107(b)(1) of this part.” Another source of guidance is the regulatory definition of flight training. See Far 61.1, and this discussion of logging flight time in the February 1999 Flight Training.

So, can you fly with a non-instructor pilot friend who is an appropriately rated, certificated pilot with recency of experience requirements met? Yes, but only as a passenger. The flight does not count as training time, such as a “solo” cross-country. Logging it as such will get you disqualified by the designated examiner who reviews your application and logbook.

A related issue is the doubtful wisdom of seeking informal training from outside sources while taking formal lessons from an authorized instructor. Doing so may seem a tempting financial shortcut, but it could disrupt your training and be short on quality control.

Keep it simple and legal by flying with your authorized instructor, and solo when permitted—until you earn your private, recreational, or sport pilot certificate.

training products

Sporty’s ‘VFR Communications’ tutorial

Need help sounding proficient on the radio? Sporty’s VFR Communications features real-world scenarios and covers all types of communication, including air traffic control, nontowered airports, and emergency situations. It can be purchased in DVD format or as a download for laptop, Android, or iPhone. Order online for $34.95 or call 800/SPORTYS.


Note: Products listed have not been evaluated by ePilot editors unless otherwise noted. AOPA assumes no responsibility for products or services listed or for claims or actions by manufacturers or vendors. 

final exam


Question: I’m studying for the private pilot airman knowledge test and have some questions about what density altitude is, and why it affects an airplane’s performance. Does AOPA have information on the topic?


Answer: High density altitude is a condition resulting primarily from hot temperatures and/or high altitude. Air pressure decreases as temperature and/or altitude increases. The result is reduced aircraft performance which can lead to longer takeoff and landing distances, reduced climb rates, and lower service and absolute ceilings. Humidity also is a factor in density altitude; its effect is primarily related to engine power and secondarily related to aerodynamic efficiency. A pilot should check the airplane's operating handbook for performance considerations and calculations prior to any flight. You’ll find more information in AOPA's subject report, Density Altitude, and in the Air Safety Institute’s Safety Advisor, Mastering Takeoffs and Landings .

Got a question for our technical services staff? E-mail [email protected] or call the Pilot Information Center, 800/872-2672. Don’t forget the online archive of “Final Exam” questions and answers, searchable by keyword or topic.

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