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Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge
Introduction To Flying

Pilot Certifications

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Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge



Table of Contents

Chapter 1, Introduction To Flying
Chapter 2, Aircraft Structure
Chapter 3, Principles of Flight
Chapter 4, Aerodynamics of Flight
Chapter 5, Flight Controls
Chapter 6, Aircraft Systems
Chapter 7, Flight Instruments
Chapter 8, Flight Manuals and Other Documents
Chapter 9, Weight and Balance
Chapter 10, Aircraft Performance
Chapter 11, Weather Theory
Chapter 12, Aviation Weather Services
Chapter 13, Airport Operation
Chapter 14, Airspace
Chapter 15, Navigation
Chapter 16, Aeromedical Factors
Chapter 17, Aeronautical Decision Making




Sport Pilot
The type of intended flying will influence what type of
pilot's certificate is required. Eligibility, training, experience,
and testing requirements differ depending on the type of
certificates sought.

To become a sport pilot, the student pilot is required to have
the following hours depending upon the aircraft:
• Airplane: 20 hours
• Powered Parachute: 12 hours
• Weight-Shift Control (Trikes): 20 hours
• Glider: 10 hours
• Rotorcraft (gyroplane only): 20 hours
• Lighter-Than-Air: 20 hours (airship) or 7 hours (balloon)

To earn a Sport Pilot Certificate, one must:
• Be at least 16 to become a student sport pilot (14 for
• Be at least 17 to test for a sport pilot certificate (16
for gliders).
• Be able to read, write, and understand English.
• Hold a current and valid driver's license as evidence
of medical eligibility.

Recreational Pilot
To become a recreational pilot, one must:
• Be at least 17 years old (16 to be a private glider pilot
or be rated for free flight in a balloon.)
• Be able to read, write, speak and understand the
English language
• Pass the required knowledge test
• Meet the aeronautical experience requirements
• A logbook endorsement from an instructor
• Pass the required practical test
• Third-class medical certificate issued under part 14
CFR part 67, except for gliders and balloons—medical
eligibility not required

As a recreational pilot, cross-country flight is limited to a
50 NM range from departure airport but is permitted with
additional training per 14 CFR section 61.101(c). Additional
limitations include flight during the day, and no flying in
airspace where communications with air traffic control are

The aeronautical experience requirements for a recreational
pilot license
• 30 hours of flight time including at least:
• 15 hours of dual instruction
• 2 hours of enroute training
• 3 hours in preparation for the practical test
• 3 hours of solo flight

Private Pilot
A private pilot is one who flies for pleasure or personal
business without accepting compensation for flying except
in some very limited, specific circumstances. The Private
Pilot Certificate is the certificate held by the majority of
active pilots. It allows command of any aircraft (subject
to appropriate ratings) for any noncommercial purpose,
and gives almost unlimited authority to fly under VFR.
Passengers may be carried, and flight in furtherance of a
business is permitted; however, a private pilot may not be
compensated in any way for services as a pilot, although
passengers can pay a pro rata share of flight expenses, such
as fuel or rental costs. If training under 14 CFR part 61,
experience requirements include at least 40 hours of piloting
time, including 20 hours of flight with an instructor and 10
hours of solo flight [Figure 1-23]

A typical aircraft a private pilot might fly.
Figure 1-23. A typical aircraft a private pilot might fly.

Commercial Pilot
A commercial pilot may be compensated for flying Training
for the certificate focuses on a better understanding of
aircraft systems and a higher standard of airmanship. The
Commercial Certificate itself does not allow a pilot to fly in
instrument meteorological conditions (IMC), and commercial
pilots without an instrument rating are restricted to daytime
flight within 50 nautical miles (NM) when flying for hire

A commercial airplane pilot must be able to operate
a complex airplane, as a specific number of hours of
complex (or turbine-powered) aircraft time are among
the prerequisites, and at least a portion of the practical
examination is performed in a complex aircraft. A complex
aircraft must have retractable landing gear, movable flaps,
and a controllable pitch propeller. See 14 CFR part 61, section
61.31(c) for additional information. [Figure 1-24]