USA Sports Pilot
The USA FAA's
definition of an ultralight is significantly different than that of
most other countries and can lead to some confusion when discussing
regulation in the United States is FAR 103, which specifies an "ultralight"
as a single seat aircraft of less than 5 US gallons (19 L) fuel
capacity, empty weight of less than 254 pounds (115 kg), a top speed
of 55 knots (102 km/h), a maximum stall speed not exceeding 24 knots
(45 km/h), and are only allowed to fly during daylight hours and over
unpopulated areas. Weight allowances can be made for two-seat
trainers, amphibious landing gear, and ballistic parachute systems.
In 2004 the FAA
introduced the "Light-Sport Aircraft" category, which closely
resembles other countries' Ultralight categories.
In the United States
no license or training is required by law for ultralight aircraft, but
training is highly advisable. For light-sport aircraft a sport pilot
certificate is required, which is similar in requirements to other
countries' Ultralight license.
In the U.S., a Sport
Pilot certificate allows the pilot to operate a light-sport aircraft
(a small, low-powered aircraft), under a limited set of flight
conditions. The U.S. Sport Pilot certificate is similar to other
countries' ultralight certificates. It is the only U.S. pilot
certificate for powered aircraft that does not require a medical
examination; a driver's license can be used as proof of medical
On July 20, 2004 the FAA approved the Sport Pilot rule, to meet demand
from recreational pilots flying small and experimental airplanes. The
FAA worked in cooperation with the Experimental Aircraft Association
to create the rule. This certification is easier to obtain than the
private pilot certificate, and has more restrictions than the private
No FAA medical certificate is required. A valid and current driver's
license certifies that the pilot is medically fit to fly. However,
those who have had a FAA medical certificate revoked or denied may not
use a driver's license, but rather must obtain a valid medical
A minimum of 20 hours of flight time including 15 hours of flight with
an instructor and 5 hours of solo flight.
A passing score on an FAA knowledge test.
Pass a practical flight exam with an FAA-designated examiner.
Sport Pilots are only eligible to fly aircraft that are either
certified as light-sport aircraft (LSA) or other certified aircraft
that meet the criteria for light-sport aircraft.
Other restrictions placed on a holder of a Sport Pilot certificate
At most one passenger
Daytime flight only (civil twilight is used to define day/night)
No flight above 10,000 feet MSL
No flight in any of the airspace classes that require radio
communication (classes A, B, C, or D) without first obtaining
additional instruction and instructor endorsement
No additional ratings (such as an Instrument rating), although time in
sport-light aircraft can be used towards the experience requirement of
The U.S. definition of Microlight (Ultralight) Aircraft is much more
restrictive than for 'Light Sport Aircraft' and no licence is required
to fly a U.S.-defined Microlight.