Should I bother with sport license if I can't buy a plane?

Discussion in 'Home Builders and Sport Pilots' started by AmeliaGrace, Jul 8, 2021.

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  1. AmeliaGrace

    AmeliaGrace Filing Flight Plan

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    I just switched over to sport pilot training after doing 13 hours toward my PPL. After a lot of thought (and going back and forth on my decision 50 times), I decided this is the best choice for me if I want to fly at all. I don't want to get into details, but I have a very low chance of getting a medical if I apply. I can spend thousands of dollars for the possibility of getting denied and never flying again, or just put that money toward a sport license. Flying has always been my dream, so I'm not willing to risk that. And just to be clear, the medical issues are in the past, and there is nothing that affects my ability to safely operate an aircraft (but we all know the FAA doesn't care about that).

    The thing is, I'm not sure how much I'll actually be able to fly once I get my license. I'm at the one flight school in my state that has an LSA for rent, a Cessna Skycatcher. I'm not a huge fan of the plane TBH, and this school is way more expensive than the one I was at before. I'm paying $180/hr for the plane and $90/hr for the instructor compared to $120/$45 for a DA20/instructor at my old school. But this is what I'm stuck with if I want to fly, so I'm gritting my teeth and opening my wallet.

    I'm just wondering if I should keep dumping money into this considering I'll be sharing one rental plane with the entire state, not to mention all the restrictions on sport pilots. I love flying, but I don't want to get this license if I never get to use it.

    Those of you with just a sport pilot license, how do you feel about all the restrictions? How much does it affect your enjoyment of flying to be limited to daytime VFR, one passenger, etc? And do the majority of sport pilots own an airplane, given the limited rental availability? That's definitely out of the question for me financially. I would love to find a flying club or something but there seems to be nothing for LSAs in my area. Just 172s as far as the eye can see.

    Any insight would be appreciated!
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2021
  2. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I was limited to sport pilot privileges for a couple of years until BasicMed was adopted, but rental LSAs are easier to find here, and considerably less expensive than the price you mentioned. Yes the restrictions are somewhat inconvenient, but I was surprised at how much fun I was able to have in spite of them.

    Only you can decide if the enjoyment you get out of it is worth the cost. As for availability, are you having much trouble getting on the schedule for the plane currently?
     
  3. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    By the way, if you go ahead and get a private pilot certificate while flying an LSA, I think that can be done without a medical certificate. That gives you a few privileges that you would otherwise need an additional endorsement for. (Flying in class B airspace is an example.)
     
  4. AmeliaGrace

    AmeliaGrace Filing Flight Plan

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    I haven't yet, but I've only flown it twice.
     
  5. AmeliaGrace

    AmeliaGrace Filing Flight Plan

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    You cannot get a PPL at all without a medical, unfortunately. Doesn't matter what you fly. I've looked for any possible loophole and there isn't one.
     
  6. JOhnH

    JOhnH Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Can't you buy a light Sport plane with a sport's pilot license?

    edit: I own half a Bonanza with NO license any more. My wife owns the other half but she has her Instrument rating.
     
  7. AmeliaGrace

    AmeliaGrace Filing Flight Plan

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    Yeah, the license isn't the problem. I can't afford to buy a plane.
     
  8. JOhnH

    JOhnH Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Ok. I understand. I thought your title meant you would buy a plane if you got your ppl.
     
  9. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    What are you basing that on? The only problem I can think of is that you wouldn't be able to solo at night, but while night training is required, I don't recall there being any night solo requirement.
     
  10. AmeliaGrace

    AmeliaGrace Filing Flight Plan

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    Sorry for the confusion, I see how I could have worded that better.
     
  11. AmeliaGrace

    AmeliaGrace Filing Flight Plan

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    I'm basing it on what the FAA says. A third class medical is required for a private pilot license. You can take lessons toward your PPL without a medical only to the point of solo flight. You cannot solo as a PPL student without a medical. You can get a sport pilot license without an FAA medical certificate as long as you have a valid driver's license.

    https://www.faa.gov/licenses_certificates/medical_certification/faq/response3/

    https://www.aopa.org/advocacy/advocacy-briefs/frequently-asked-questions-about-sport-pilot
     
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  12. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I was assuming that you could do it if all of your solo flights were done in an LSA and within the sport pilot limitations, but I guess I'm mistaken.
     
  13. AmeliaGrace

    AmeliaGrace Filing Flight Plan

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    The FAA likes to make it confusing. But no, there is no way to get a PPL if you can't get a medical. And I think the only additional privilege you can get is the airspace endorsement that you get from your instructor.
     
  14. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    This portion of 14 CFR 61.89 seems applicable, but I'll have to check the cross-references:

    (d) The holder of a student pilot certificate may act as pilot in command of an aircraft without holding a medical certificate issued under part 67 of this chapter provided the student pilot holds a valid U.S. driver's license, meets the requirements of §61.23(c)(3), and the operation is conducted consistent with the requirements of paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section and the conditions of §61.113(i). Where the requirements of paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section conflict with §61.113(i), a student pilot must comply with paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section.​
     
  15. RyanShort1

    RyanShort1 En-Route

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    You might be surprised. I've bought planes for $12-14K before. Almost bought a Sport eligible Taylorcraft last year for $12K... it takes some looking, but there are generally some options out there.
     
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  16. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Looks like the sticking point is in 61.23(c), which other than BasicMed appears to provide an exception only when seeking sport pilot privileges.

    (c) Operations requiring either a medical certificate or U.S. driver's license. (1) A person must hold and possess either a medical certificate issued under part 67 of this chapter or a U.S. driver's license when—

    (i) Exercising the privileges of a student pilot certificate while seeking sport pilot privileges in a light-sport aircraft other than a glider or balloon;
    https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-i...mc=true&node=pt14.2.61&rgn=div5#se14.2.61_123

    You're also right about the FAA making it confusing!
     
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  17. Pugs

    Pugs Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    Some thoughts

    1) I suspect with some looking around you're going to find a club, a partnership or even a single owner that is interested in a partnership that will put an LSA within reach. Put your location out here and I'll bet you'll even have some help finding one! As RyanShort1 says, LSAs as they stand today include a WHOLE lot of airplanes cheaper than a modern one.

    2) Major changes appear afoot with LSA that may include an increase in weight to include the 172/Archer typical 4-place weights and the ability to fly with more than 2 people. Hard to say if they will come to pass but a sport license may well not be the limitation in the future. Would be nice to have it so you could take advantage (and it would open up a whole lot more clubs/partnerships/rentals)

    3) 90% of the flying I do I could do in an LSA quite happily, even practicing instrument approaches! Yes, I'd rather take the 182RG to Florida but for weekend stuff an LSA would be fine.

    I say press on!
     
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  18. GaryM

    GaryM Cleared for Takeoff

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    It would take a bit of work, but if you can find partners, or enough interested folks to form a club, you may be able to get the purchase price (and ongoing costs) down to something manageable. If rentals are generally scarce, you may also get PPLs interested in a light sport aircraft.

    (OK, this post is largely redundant with Pugs point 1), which he typed faster than I.)
     
  19. Juliet Hotel

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    Allow me to offer a perspective you may not have considered. Learning to be a pilot was one of most rewarding and memorable things I've ever done. Note that I didn't say being a pilot, I said learning to be a pilot. Yes I did lots of flying after I got my certificate and enjoyed quite a bit of it. I also went into professional flying and ended up hating it. By the time I left the industry, I never wanted to see the inside of an airplane again. But I loved every minute of learning to fly and still cherish the memories of that experience.

    Something else to consider. Once you get the certificate, you always have it. It never expires. So while owning an LSA isn't a viable option for you right now, that doesn't mean that will always be the case. Nor will it necessarily always be the case that LSA's will be limited to weight and speed specs that LSA's are currently limited to.

    Life is short and the future is unpredictable. Always better to do the good stuff now IMO.
     
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  20. masloki

    masloki Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    I think you are paying too much. Join the local EAA chapter(s), attend a meeting and get some local advice. I think odds are very good you will find some planes you can borrow for consideration, or will learn about other options that just aren’t available on the internet. Aviation is still very much a person-to-person airport community thing where what you can find online is a small fraction of what’s out there. LSAs can be a hoot, and there are many from ww2 era that check the boxes. I flew a J2 low and slow and still think of that flight quite fondly. You won’t want to go cross-country in a cub too often, but that’s for your to decide what you want to do after getting your license.
     
  21. Flocker

    Flocker Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Where are you located and what's your mission 90% of the time?
     
  22. somorris

    somorris Pattern Altitude

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    Like Pugs said, there are changes afoot that may qualify a lot more aircraft to be flown by Sport Pilots. My guess is there will be updates at Air Venture. The last I read, the new regs are expected in 2023.

    Where are you flying? $180 an hour for a Skycatcher seems excessive to me.

    Bottom line, if you can afford it, keep going. My guess is there is a very significant percentage of light aircraft being flown within the limits of a Sport Pilot certificate, even though the pilots hold a higher certificate.
     
  23. AmeliaGrace

    AmeliaGrace Filing Flight Plan

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    I'm at KGVL (Gainesville, GA). It definitely seems excessive to me, not to mention the airport is an hour drive away, but it's the only thing I could find.
     
  24. AmeliaGrace

    AmeliaGrace Filing Flight Plan

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    I'm taking lessons at KGVL, but live much closer to KLZU or KWDR. Originally I wanted to fly professionally, but that's out of the question now, so I just want to be able to take day trips with my husband, to places we would usually drive to.
     
  25. AmeliaGrace

    AmeliaGrace Filing Flight Plan

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    Oh I'm certain I'm paying too much, but that was all I could find. I will look into the local EAA chapter for sure, thanks.
     
  26. somorris

    somorris Pattern Altitude

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    I am not familiar with your area (I am in Memphis, TN metro), but I am pretty sure others here will chime in. The local flight school used to have a Skycatcher which rented for somewhere around $120 wet.
     
  27. Flocker

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    LFC?
     
  28. AmeliaGrace

    AmeliaGrace Filing Flight Plan

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    Yep that's it. I have no problem with the school or its instructors, it was just a little bit of sticker shock.
     
  29. Flocker

    Flocker Pre-takeoff checklist

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    PM sent
     
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  30. Vincent Becker

    Vincent Becker Filing Flight Plan

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    I'm close to 15 hours training as a sport pilot due to the medical. Same thing, issue in the past and flying sport to avoid the $$$ to fix it and possibility of being denied.

    I can say, without a doubt, it's the best decision I made to still go for the sport cert. I waffled for a couple years and decided to finally pull the trigger. If it still fits your mission to fly with 1 passenger at this point, there's no reason to not. Sounds on the expensive side compared to what I pay, but if you want do do it, do it. You'll still save money on the medical issues (just run the numbers). The minute you get in the cockpit, you forget about any of the limitations and just enjoy being able to fly.

    Not sure if the novelty will wear off later on, but from what I've seen from other sport pilots in a similar situation, it won't. Not to mention the potential for expansion of sport pilot in 2023 as others have mentioned...
     
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  31. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    If anything, I enjoyed flying more when I was limited to sport pilot privileges. Instead of focusing on maintaining club currency in the various types I previously flew, I found myself taking more trips, ranging from nearby my home base in the San Francisco area, to all the way to the Canadian border. And I found that the cruise speed of a Skycatcher is about the same as the older 172s.

    I also learned to pack light.
     
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  32. Daleandee

    Daleandee Pattern Altitude

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    I have little doubt that I could pass a medical but to be honest my Sport Certificate does all I want a plane for. I don't care to fly at night or in the clouds and I never have to be anywhere at anytime. If I do I pay someone else to fly me there.

    My plane is for my recreational flying and it has taken me to several states, many airports, and some great fly-ins and airshows. It cruises at Light Sport speeds which are better than most trainers and is quite sufficient for shorter cross country trips.

    As far as affording a plane ... if you were to fly 75 hours or more in the next year at the rate you are paying you could afford to purchase a plane as RyanShort1 noted above.
     
  33. CaptainXap

    CaptainXap Pre-Flight

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    As others have said, you might find your options open up once we hit the end of 2023. You might also want to have a look at https://www.sportpilottalk.com/ - not nearly as much traffic as PoA, but it's all Sport Pilot related.
     
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  34. Samuel Seidel

    Samuel Seidel Pre-Flight

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    7B26DF47-38F7-47BA-8946-745059E3CCFF.jpeg
    I’m a sport pilot at LZU (EAA 690 chapter) with an Evektor Sportstar LSA. Might be able to work something out with you. I plan on taking my plane on overni

    You would need to find an instructor with light sport experience, however.

    If your going to do more training with Lanier. Make sure you join there “club” as that knocks down the insane 180$ an hour to 140$ an hour.

    Your sorta SOL out here if you don’t buy a plane, there are two schools within 3 hours of Atlanta that offer light sport training in fixed wing. Lanier is the only that rents to non-students. But if you want to just get your license it would be a lot cheaper at GetInspired Aviation in Jasper Georgia. Which for you is likely a 2 hour drive. However, the owner and instructor there is phenomenal and teaches because he loves to teach, not to build hours. About $180 an hour which includes both the plane and instructor. I have also been told there is an Ercoupe for rent at the same airport. I am constantly searching for alternatives and have yet to find any more information than what I have presented here, if anyone has anything to add please contact me.
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2021
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  35. 40YearDream

    40YearDream Pre-takeoff checklist

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    You might consider joining AOPA, and working with their help to find out if you could get a Special Issuance medical. I went, in my ignorance, with an overpriced outfit in Oklahoma, called Pilot Medical Solutions (really would not recommend them). I spent 9 months gathering medical records, then waited 7 months for the FAA to look at them ☹️ - but I did obtain that 3rd class SI. That was enough to get me to Basic Med, and a PPL.
    Same problem around here - no place to rent a light sport airplane.
     
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  36. rtk11

    rtk11 Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    I think flying is worth it overall... so worth pursuing the SPL and having it in hand. I find that most of my missions are solo, so my other seat is empty most of the time. I personally was not keen to rent the school plane as it wasn't always flown gently, and I found enough squawks on my pre-flight of the plane that cancelled flights. (Prior students didn't report wing encounters with the fence, there were chips in the carbon fiber prop that were worrisome, etc.)

    I thought the cheapest way to keep flying was to get into a partnership. Some partnerships work out great, others... well, not so much. I was in the "not so much" end of the scale on that, and I paid money on something I never got to fly, so I sold out of that partnership and bought my own aircraft. While it's best to pay cash, I couldn't. I took a loan with Wings Financial (great to work with!) and purchased my own (used) LSA.

    There are some nice LSA out there, some older aircraft that fit into the LSA category (Ercoupe for exampe), and some relatively newer but usec aircraft that fly quite nicely (Flight Design CTsw, Remos, etc.) that can be reasonably priced. Or even some newer aircraft like the Bushcat that are reasonably priced new (cheaper yet if you build it yourself.)

    Maybe something like this might work?
    https://www.barnstormers.com/classified-1661048-1946-Ercoupe-415-c-(light-spor.html?catid=20352
     
  37. kath

    kath Administrator Management Council Member

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    If this is true, then:
    ...it's not dumping money. It's doing something you've always wanted to do (which happens to cost money). Which means not a "waste".

    The future is uncertain. Things may happen, or things may not... a) the FAA changes the LSA rules, or b) a local flight school invests in another LSA or three, or c) you happen upon a screamin' deal on an old Aeronca Champ.
    Keep perspective! A sport pilot license gives you options -- a lot more than the person with who doesn't get to fly at all. Who knows, maybe someday you could get your CFI-Sport and train other people in their airplanes? Woooooot!

    --(not a sport pilot)
     
  38. DaleB

    DaleB Final Approach

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    First off…. This is something you want to do. You never know what the future will bring. Get your ticket, and fulfill that dream.

    As for buying an airplane, don’t rule it out. There are clubs and partnerships that you don’t know about yet. There are old airplanes (Chiefs, Ercoupes, Taylorcraft, and others) and lower cost Experimentals too numerous to mention that may well be within your means. If you can rent for $180 an hour, you can almost certainly afford to fly your own plane, if not right now then eventually. I’m flying an RV-12. I bought it, and now have two other co-owners. We share the fixed costs equally, and it costs us $33 per hour, wet, including an engine reserve. Beats the hell out of renting, and I didn’t wait around for someone else to offer a partnership or I’d still be waiting. Barnstormers is littered with LSA Sonexes for less than what lots of people spend on a car.

    But get the license. Nothing will happen without it. Nobody offers deals too good to pass up to non pilots. Once you’ve earned that little piece of plastic, you never know what’s going to happen.
     
  39. Marshall Alexander

    Marshall Alexander Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I've posted in numerous other threads that I got my CFI-S April 2021. I got it because of the "other" instructors not really wanting to teach, but to just gain hours at someone else's expense. As soon as they reached that magic number, they (most) could care less about that student. I'm 62 years old, don't need the hours, don't need the money. I've been instructing in MY OWN airplane (Rans S6S Coyote) for about 50 hours so far and haven't charged a dime for me, or the airplane. There's so many airplane owners out there that could mentor someone if they really wanted to. If they can afford to own an airplane, they could certainly afford to help someone out. But they come up with so many excuses not to..........rant over!!
     
  40. AmeliaGrace

    AmeliaGrace Filing Flight Plan

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    I did consults with 3 different AMEs, all said I had about a 20% chance of getting an SI medical. To me that's not worth the $8-10k it would cost and the chance of never flying anything again.