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Sport Pilot TrainingThree Elements Of Good Sport Pilot Flight Training
By Kyle Garrett
Sport pilot training, like any flight training is an exciting endeavor, but there are some things to consider before jumping in the deep end. While there are established regulations for sport pilot training, there are a few areas of concern when you are just starting out.
Choose a sport pilot training program offered by a CFI
In the past, flying anything heavier than 254 pounds (the weight limit for ultralights) required at least a recreational pilot certificate. The training difference for a recreational and private pilot certificates is so minuscule, that most pilots opt to hold out for the less restrictive private pilot certificate. The sport pilot certificate fixes a lot of this, but it opens up a few issues for pilots who wish to train for higher ratings. The core of the issue has to do with CFIs.
If you plan to get anything beyond a sport pilot certificate, you should seek out a CFI. Otherwise, you can do your sport pilot training through a CFI-SP. There are some differences in certification for CFI-SPs that would prevent you from counting the time you spend training for your sport pilot certificate toward a further certificate, like a private pilot certificate. Training with a CFI, the same as if you were seeking a private pilot certificate, removes this issue altogether.
Choose a sport pilot training program with plenty of aircraft
If there is any bad news regarding sport pilot training, it is that rental aircraft may be hard to find. In some areas you can't throw a stone without hitting LSA. They are plentiful and schools have enough rentals to accommodate your training schedule. In others, you may not find many LSA at all. In this case, you may locate a school that offers sport pilot training, but if they only have a single aircraft for rent and you have a busy schedule, it is going to effect your training.
Choose a sport pilot training program with the type of aircraft you want to fly
Aircraft choice is an area where the sport pilot is obviously more restricted than a private pilot. Sport pilots are only allowed to fly light sport aircraft, or LSA, which are aircraft that meet a certain standard, which on the surface, can seem complex. Generally, the standard is an aircraft less than 1320 pounds gross weight, with only two seats, and a maximum speed of less than 120 knots. There are several other restrictions, but generally it isn't a mystery whether a plane is an LSA or not and there are a ton of LSA floating around.
There are two major categories of LSA: purpose-built LSA, like the Remos GX or Icon A5, and legacy LSA, like the Piper Cub or Aeronca Champ. While these two categories of LSA serve the same purpose, they cater to different people. The purpose-built LSA tend to cater to the fair-weather traveller. They are outfitted with the latest technology and aren't exactly cheap, but they save money over traditional aircraft. On the other hand, legacy LSA can really drive down cost at the expense of goodies. In fact, many of these aircraft are the simplest aircraft ever produced; Classic tube-and-fabric, stick-and-rudder planes like the Piper Cub. While some schools may offer both, you will probably be forced to choose between modern technology and stick-and-rudder simplicity.
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