Frequently asked questions about sport pilot and flying trike weight-shift control (WSC) light-sport aircraft (LSA)
Who can fly a weight-shift control (WSC) trike light sport aircraft?
A weight-shift control trike light-sport aircraft may be operated by a holder of a Sport Pilot FAA Airman Certificate, also known as a Sport Pilot license with a weight-shift control trike rating.
Pilots with a private or higher pilot airplane certificate may be transitioned to fly a weight-shift control trike. They may be trained by one WSC “Certified Flight Instructor” (CFI) and take a proficiency check with another WSC CFI with no minimum hours required. Any pilot can fly as a sport pilot even if their medical certificate has expired so long as they have a valid driver’s license for medical eligibility.
What is a sport pilot license?
It’s a new FAA pilot certificate that is less expensive, requires less time and is easier to obtain than the Private Pilot certificate. Sport Pilots can fly aircraft in the new Light-Sport Aircraft (LSA) category such as trike weight-shift control light-sport aircraft, as well as, fixed-wing airplanes and powered parachutes.
Do I need a license to fly a weight-shift control trike LSA?
You must obtain a Sport Pilot Airman Certificate or a Private Pilot airman certificate if you wish to fly a two seat weight-shift control LSA. Single seat ultralight trike vehicles are less regulated and more clearly defined under the Federal Aviation Regulations Part 103, where a license is not required.
As a Sport Pilot, where and when can I fly?
At almost all airports in the U.S. with proper endorsements, during daytime only, at altitudes below 10,000 feet, with visual reference to the ground. There’s no distance limitation (can be anywhere in the U.S.).
Is a Sport Pilot trained to lower standards than a Private Pilot?
No. The piloting and mastery of the aircraft are the same. The difference is in the additional private pilot experience at larger towered airports communicating with “air traffic control”, flying at night and flying above 10,000 feet.
What is the difference between the 20-hour minimum sport pilot flight training hours and the 40-hour minimum private pilot training hours?
Less training is required because there is no night flight training, high altitude procedures above 10,000 feet, and control tower operations. However, Sport Pilots can receive additional training (beyond the 20 hours minimum required training for Sport Pilots and be endorsed to operate at control towered airports.
What are the age requirements for a Sport Pilot?
Age requirements are the same as private pilot, solo at age 16 and obtain a license at age 17. No upper age limit for sport or private pilots.
What are the medical requirements for a Sport Pilot?
First and foremost, same as all pilots flying any aircraft, you must personally determine before each flight you are medically fit to operate the aircraft in a safe manner.
Second, a valid U.S. driver’s license can be used for medical eligibility in which the same restrictions on a driver’s license, such as wearing glasses, are applicable when flying a trike weight-shift control LSA as a sport pilot.
It should be noted that if an FAA third-class medical was suspended, denied, or revoked, this must be cleared before using a driver’s license as medical eligibility. Private pilots simply let their third-class medical expire and use their driver’s license as a medical eligibility rather than failing an FAA medical exam and having to go back to clear it.
A third-class medical can also be used as medical eligibility for a Sport Pilot in place of a driver’s license for medical eligibility along with a government issued photo ID, both in place of a using a single current drivers license.
Can I fly a weight-shift control trike light-sport aircraft at night?
Yes. If the weight-shift control trike light-sport aircraft is properly equipped, and the pilot has a private pilot WSC trike rating, it can be flown at night.
Can I fly a weight-shift control trike light-sport aircraft by instruments?
No. A WSC trike cannot be flown by instruments because there is no instrument rating for a WSC trike.
Is flying a weight-shift control trike light-sport aircraft safe?
You can make flying a weight-shift control trike light-sport aircraft, like most adventure sports, as safe or dangerous as you want. You can enjoy years of injury free flying as long as you are trained properly, follow basic safety guidelines and use well maintained equipment. Ways you can make it safe are to receive instruction from a certified professional, fly well maintained and reliable aircraft — professional schools will create a safe and controlled learning environment.
Flying a weight-shift control trike LSA is an outdoor sport and Mother Nature is unpredictable — weather is always a big consideration. The primary safety factors are personal judgment and attitude. You must be willing to learn, use good judgment and have an appropriate attitude. If you do, then you can fly a WSC trike LSA as long as you want.