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Converting Your Sport Pilot to a Private Pilot License

So whether you are currently a Sport Pilot, or simply working towards your sport pilot and decide you want to go for the full private pilot certificate.  The process really is quite simple, and we’ll cover both scenarios for you below.

If you are currently a Sport Pilot:
Converting a current Sport Pilot certificate to a Private Pilot is fairly easy and will open up a few new doors for you.
Your new privileges will include:
Flying above 10,000′
Flying at night
Flying airplanes with more than 2 seats and more than 1,320lbs.
Flying Faster airplanes
The ability to add a instrument rating
Flying into Class B, C, and D airspace if you are not already  endorsed to do so.
You may find some of the requirements for additional solo flight time and solo cross country time are already met from your regular flying you have done after earning your Sport Pilot certificate.
The additional requirements you will have complete before going for a private pilot checkride include:
Flying 3 hours at night with an instructor
Flying a 100nm+ cross country at night
Making three solo takeoffs and landings at a towered airport
Have at least 5hrs of solo cross country time (greater than 50nm each way with one flight at least 150nm total and including a landing at 3 airports)
If you are in training working towards your Sport Pilot Cert and want to be a Private Pilot
This is certainly the easier and cheaper way to go about pursuing a Private Pilot’s license.  Simply by making the choice before taking the written and checkride for the Sport Pilot it will save you the cost of having to take another checkride and possibly another written exam down the road if you choose to pursue a private pilot’s license after already earning your Sport Pilot cert.
The earlier you make the choice to continue training towards the private pilot license the less time you might waste practicing in an airplane you may ultimately choose to not take your checkride in, however you should know that in most cases you can take your private pilot checkride in the same airplane you started your sport pilot training in (your CFI can answer that specifically for your exact case).
Ultimately to make this switch you will want to sit down with your CFI and take a close look at your logbook and the time you have already logged during training.  I’ll give you an example below of someone who’s already taken 7 lessons towards their sport certificate and decides they would like to pursue a private pilot certificate instead.
Total Time: 9.8 hours
Night Time: 0 hours
Solo: 0 hours
Cross Country Training (Dual) Night: 0 hours
Cross Country Training (Dual) Day: 1.8 hours
Solo Cross Country: 0 hours
Simulated Instrument (hood time): 0 hours
Solo Landings at a Towered Airport: 0
Training (Dual) Landings at Night: 0
What you will need to have to go for the private pilot checkride:
Total Time: 40 hours
Night Time: 3 hours
Solo: 10 hours
Training (Dual) Night: 3 hours
Cross Country Training (Dual) Day: 3 hours
Solo Cross Country: 5 hours
Simulated Instrument (hood time): 3 hours
Solo Landings at a Towered Airport: 3
Training (Dual) Landings at Night: 10
Now even if ou have completed all of your requirements as a Sport Pilot in bare minimum time, and at the last minute decide you want to take a private pilot checkride instead, your comparison chart would look something like this:
Ultimately, whether you choose to make the switch during your sport pilot training or after you have already earned your Sport Pilot certificate, it is not a choice you’ll regret as it will open up quite a few more doors for you and what you will be able to achieve in aviation. If you are at all curios, sit down with your CFI and take a look through your logbook at what else you would need to do to convert to a Private Pilot, or get in touch with one of our CFIs here at FLY8MA to review your logbook with you.
Happy Flying!
-Jon K.
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Jon K

Jon is a CFI, CFII, MEI, ATP, AGI, and the rest of the alphabet. He started instructing for fun part-time to be able to give back to the GA community after earning his Commercial and CFI back in 2013. He has a strong background in academia, starting his career at the University of Michigan, and now is pursuing his dreams of flying, both for the airlines and teaching as a CFI on his days off.

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