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I just read Connie Sue White's article "For The Joy Of It" in the March 2011 issue of Flying and as a result I am even more confused regarding Sport Pilot training and Private Pilot training. I have read a few articles that seem to say the FAA will not allow the hours acquired during training for the Sport Pilot certificate to apply toward the Private Pilot certificate. There have been headlines that indicate there is possible legislation in the works to change that.
I am in much the same position with flight training Connie was in. I logged 19 hours, 89 landings, and my long cross country solo flight in 1975 and haven't had a flight lesson since. I am currently building the first of what I hope to be many airplanes and need to acquire at least a Sport Pilot license. Recent health issues may prevent me from passing the medical so the Sport Pilot route is currently my only option. Can any of my previous flight time count toward the Sport Pilot certificate? When health issues no longer pose a problem will the hours logged as a Sport Pilot count toward my Private Pilot certificate?
It seems in an ideal world a person should be able to get his/her Sport Pilot certificate, log 50 to 100 hours as PIC, then take the appropriate tests and check ride along with passing the flight physical to get the Private ticket, but some articles from respectable publications indicate the FAA says this is a "no-no." What is the real story? I have also read a story of a long time pilot who lost his medical and is now going to go the Sport Pilot route. According to the FAA regs, as I interpret them, if a pilot loses his/her medical and therefore can no longer fly as PIC, he or she cannot even fly as a Sport Pilot. If, for example, I went to take my flight physical and I failed, I would not even be able to get my Sport Pilot certificate. It seems if the FAA finds out you have any medical issues that can cause you to fail the flight physical, you can no longer fly anything as PIC even if it is an LSA. What is the truth about this? With all of the aviation publications, e-zines, blogs, etc., I cannot seem to find the definitive answers. Please help.
You can use hours logged from before towards your sport pilot certificate. You can use hours logged as a sport pilot towards a possible future private pilot certificate (PPL). However, you cannot use dual instruction hours given to you by a CFI-S (sport pilot) towards dual instruction requirements for your PPL. There is a move afoot to amend this to give credit to sport pilot dual, but so far nothing has changed.
If you have a lapsed medical that was never denied you are OK to fly sport pilot, assuming you have a valid drivers license and no medical condition that would make it unsafe for you to fly (as determined by you and your doctor) based on the standards of qualifying for a drivers license. If your medical was ever denied, you are out of luck unless you can get it reinstated. This seems kind of silly, however, it is the law whether you like it or not.
Your statement that "if the FAA finds out you have any medical issues that can cause you to fail the flight physical, you can no longer fly anything as PIC even if it is an LSA" is not exactly true. If, in the process of assessing you for an FAA medical, they find something they don't like you will fail and be unable to fly, even as a sport pilot, until you can convince them that you are OK. However, if you are flying as a sport pilot, the FAA has nthing to do with evaluating your ongoing medical condition, and since you do not have an FAA medical they can't revoke it.
You are still bound by the requirement to self-ground if you are unfit to fly, but the standard of fitness is being able to qualify for a drivers license, not pass a Class III FAA physical. That said, if you do something obviously in opposition to good medical judgement and have an accident, you should expect to get busted by the FAA.
I hope that helps. As long as you have never had your FAA medical revoked or denied you have a good chance of flying as a sport pilot.
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