How and where can I get a student pilot certificate?

An aviation medical examiner (AME) typically gives you a student pilot certificate to fill out as part of the third class medical exam. Your flight instructor will likely refer you to a local AME, or you can find an examiner online using AOPA’s database of AME’s searchable by city and state. A student pilot certificate is valid for 24 calendar months and a third class medical could be valid for up to 36 months, depending on your age at the time of your AME visit. If your student pilot certificate expires first, you can get a new one from a designated pilot examiner (DPE) or your local Flight Standards District Office (FSDO).

For how long is a student pilot certificate valid?

One of the frequently asked questions FAQ, a student pilot certificate is valid for 24 calendar months.

What are the vision, hearing, and general medical health requirements?

Your vision must be at least 20/40 for near and distant vision with or without corrective lenses, and you must be able to perceive those colors necessary for the safe pilot performance. For general health and medical related questions, refer to AOPA’s medical subject reports prior to visiting your AME.

How much does it cost to learn to fly and get a pilot certificate?

There are a lot of variables that affect the cost of learning to fly, including the frequency of flight lessons, weather conditions, the kind of aircraft in which you are training and its availability for scheduling, and individual aptitude.

How long does it take to learn to fly and get a pilot certificate?

The same variables that affect the cost of learning to fly will affect the time it takes to earn your certificate. The FAA has established the minimum number of flight hours needed to obtain a certificate. Under Part 61 of the federal aviation regulations, the minimums are 20 hours for a sport pilot certificate, 30 hours for a recreational certificate, and 40 hours for a private pilot certificate. Some schools operate under an alternate regulation, Part 141, which provides more FAA oversight, more rigid schedules, and more paperwork. The added requirements allow them to reduce the minimum hours of private pilot training to 35 hours. However, many schools believe that a true average flight training time for a private pilot is between 50 hours and 60 hours, whether the school operates under Part 61 or Part 141 schools. Others believe that 68 to 70 hours is the more likely average. These flight hours can be spread over a time span of several months to a year or more.

What are the differences between a Part 61 and a Part 141 flight school?

Part 141 schools have more FAA oversight, more rigid schedules, and more paperwork. For the added requirements, they are allowed to reduce the minimum required hours of private pilot training to 35 hours, rather than the 40-hour minimum required when training at a Part 61 flight school. The Part 61 school, on the other hand, is able to be more flexible with training schedules, and has the ability to tailor the curriculum to meet individual students’ training needs. Either school must train you to pass the very same practical test.

Some flight schools have aircraft with “glass cockpits” and others do not. Are there any advantages of training in either aircraft?

A controversial subject at times, there is no doubt that modern technology has inundated the general aviation cockpit, including training aircraft. The choice is ultimately yours, but some things to consider will be the cost of training in the “glass cockpit” versus conventionally equipped aircraft. Additionally, your future ambitions might involve or require extensive use of glass-cockpit aircraft. In either case, train in an aircraft that best suits your present and future needs and interests.

share on