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Comparison Chart: Airplane Single-EngineComparison Chart: Airplane Single-Engine

When learning to fly, you may choose to earn a sport, recreational, or private pilot certificate. Compare some of the basic requirements for the three certificates in this convenient chart.


Flight Experience
(Part 61)

Sport Pilot Certificate minimum hours

Recreational Certificate
minimum hours

Private Certificate
minimum hours

 Total Hours

20

30

40

 Dual

15

15

20

 Dual Cross Country

2

2 (25 nautical miles or more)

3 (50 nautical miles or more)

 Solo

5

3

10

 Solo Cross Country

One 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 a straight-line distance of at least 25 nautical miles between the takeoff and landing locations

0

5

 Night Flight

0

0

3

Flight by Reference to Instruments

0

0

3

Practical Test Prep

2

3

3

 

 LIMITATIONS

 

Sport

Recreational

Private

 Passengers

1

1

No Limit

 Aircraft

Light sport aircraft

Restrictions based on operating privilege

Restrictions based on operating privilege

 Engines

1

1

1*

 Seats

2

4

No Limit

 Horsepower

Not specified (but max speed 120 knots)

180

200*

 Retractable Gear

No

No

No*

 Altitude

10,000

10,000

18,000*

 Airspace

Class G&E only*

Class G&E only*

No Class A*

 Night Flying

No

No

Yes

 Business Related

No

No

Yes

 Flight w/o Ref. To Ground

No

No

Yes

 Outside U.S.

No

No

Yes

 Charity

No

No

Yes

 Towing

No

No

Yes

*Indicates a limitation may be removed with additional training, endorsements and/or ratings.