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Pilot Qualifications


Requirements for Private Pilots are found in 61.103, which states the applicant must:

  • Be 17 Years old - (a)

  • Read, write, and speak English - (c)

  • Received an endorsement for completing aeronautical knowledge areas IAW 61.105 - (d)

  • Pass the knowledge test - (e)

  • Received an endorsement for taking the practical test - (f)

  • Meet the aeronautical experience IAW 61.109 - (g)

  • Pass the practical test- (h)


Aeronautical Knowledge 61.105 - Before taking the practical test, a pilot should complete a home-study course (ASA or King Schools) or receive ground training from an instructor which include at least the 13 subject areas listed in paragraph (b) of 61.105


Flight proficiency 61.107(b)(1) (i-xi) - the areas of operation, or maneuvers, that a pilot must conduct in training prior to the practical test 

Proficiency vs. Currency 

- Being legally current doesn't exactly mean the pilot is proficient.


Aeronautical experience 61.109 (a) - Flight time or specific experience time required for the Private Pilot certificate:

40 hours of total flight time that includes:

  • 20 hours with an instructor compiling of 10 hours of 61.107(b)(1)(i-xi) training:

Of the 20 hours with an instructor-

  • 3 hours of cross country flight training

  • 3 hours of night flight training that involves a flight of over 100nm total distance with 10 takeoffs and landings to a full stop.

  • 3 hours of training solely with reference to instruments

  • 3 hours of training for the practical test within 2 calendar months prior to the test.

10 hours of solo

  • 5 hours must be solo cross country with:

  • One solo cross country of 150 nm total distance with full-stop landings at 3 points and one segment being more than 50nm straight-line distance between points and 3 takeoffs and landings to a full stop at a controlled airport. 

Tab out page 99 of the FAR/AIM 61.103-61.109 for: Private Pilot requirements

To carry passengers acting as pilot in command (PIC), the pilot must have Recent Flight Experience IAW 61.57,  which states that a pilot must have completed:

Day Currency:

3 takeoffs and 3 landings in the preceding 90 days in the same category and class to carry passengers as PIC during the day


Night Currency:

3 takeoffs and 3 landings to a full stop in the preceding 90 days between the hours of one hour after sunset to one hour before sunrise in the same category and class to carry to carry passengers as PIC during this time.

Flight Review:

Every 24 calendar months, a pilot is to undergo a flight review IAW 61.56. This flight review is a 1 hour flight and 1 hour ground session of a pilot held to the standard of their certificate. If a practical test is completed, this time is reset for needing a flight review 24 calendar months after her the month of the practical test.


There is no fail. It's a review conducted by an instructor, examiner, or check airmen where they determine if the pilot is proficient. If they are deemed proficient, they will endorse the pilot to fly for an additional 24 calendar months. If they are not deemed proficient, extra training may be conducted until the examiner feels they are ready for the endorsement. 

*Tab out and highlight key points on page 66 of the FAR/AIM 61.56-61.57 for: Recent Flight Experience*



Privileges and limitations of a private pilot IAW - 61.113

The acronym CAN’T DO PC explains, briefly, the privileges (CAN’T DO) along with the limitations (PC). The idea behind the acronym is that a pilot can’t do PC - PC stands for Private Certificate as a mnemonic for future reference organizing the aviation acronyms. 61.113 (h) & (i) are not included due to irrelevance. (h) is relevant to the next section of this study. 



  • Compensation or hire incidental to business (b)

  • Aircraft Salesmen (f)

  • Non Profit organization (d)

  • Towing (g)

  • Doing more than pro rata share (c)

  • Organization for search & rescue (e)

  • Property or passengers for hire (a)

  • Compensation or for hire (a)

*Tab out and highlight key points on page 101 of the FAR/AIM 61.113 for: Private Pilot Privileges and Limitations*


Medical IAW - 61.23

Pilots need to prove that they are in a good physical condition overall to operate an aircraft, especially if there will be many passengers aboard. This physical examination is referred to a  medical, and there are 3 Classes of medicals that vary in depth. First class, being the most comprehensive physical, to third class medical - being the least-most comprehensive. A first class medical is valid for a low duration of time, is the most comprehensive examination, and is required for high tier pilot positions, such as an airline pilot. See 61.23 (a) (1-3) for positions where each class of medical is required.  Each description under 1-3 is considered the privileges each class can grant. 


As mentioned above, each class medial has a specific duration period that it is valid for. Age affects this factor; if a pilot is 40 and over, the duration of the medical is decreased. See 61.23 (d) for a table representing the duration of each medical, along with the privileges.

 However, once that time is up for a first or second class medical, the privileges of that medical certificate degrade to the next class’ privileges.

For example, a first class medical, for a pilot under 40, will have first class privileges [61.23 (a) (1)] for 12 calendar months. However, after the 12 calendar months are finished, the privileges of that first class medical will drop down to third class privileges [61.23 (a) (3)] for the remainder of the third class duration, in this case, 48 calendar months. It is still referred to as a first class medical, but the privileges have been degraded by expiration, so it is a “first class medical with third class privileges”.

See the figure below for a graphical explanation of medical privilege degeneration.


Basic Med 61.23 (c) & 61.113 (i)

There are ways around not needing to continuously obtain a medical certificate. However, this alternative, known as BasicMed, would hold limitations for pilots who operate under it 61.113 (i):

The aircraft being flown - 

  • (1) Cannot be capable to carry more than 6 passengers. 

  • (1) Cannot have a maximum takeoff weight of more than 6000lbs.

  • (2) (i) Cannot fly more than 18,000’ above sea level (MSL)

  • (2) (ii) Cannot fly outside of the US unless authorized.

  • (2) (iii) Cannot Fly faster than 250 kts.

  • (3) Must have the completed medical checklist with the pilot. 


However, privileges are still granted to 61.23 (c) (1)

  • Flight Instruct and act as PIC (vi)

  • Fly with student pilot privileges (v)

  • Fly with private pilot privileges (v)


A pilot operating under BasicMed must 61.23 (c) (3):

  • (A) Comply with restrictions on their drivers license

  • (B) Have held a medical certificate at some point after July 14, 2006

  • (C) Complete a medical education course within the preceding 24 calendar months months prior to the flight. (Meaning: If you took the course today, then 26 calendar months passed, you would be ineligible to fly as PIC since 24 calendar months was the expiration) 

  • (D) Retrieved a medical examination by a state licensed physician (family doctor) within the preceding 48 calendar months prior to the flight. (Meaning: If you had this examination today, then 4 years passed, you would be ineligible to fly as PIC since 48 calendar months was the expiration. This medical process involves a checklist from for the physician to use as a guide for the physical It must be on you during flight.) 

  • (E) Be in the care by the physician who conducted the test if diagnosed with a medical condition where it affects the ability to fly.


*Tab out and highlight key points on page 51 and highlight key points in 61.23 (c) (1) & (2) for: Basic Med*

*Tab out and highlight key points on page 107 and highlight key points in 61.113 (i) for: Basic Med Limitations*



Documents required to exercise private pilot privileges IAW 61.3(a) & (c)

  • (a) (1) - Pilot Certificate

  • (a) (2) - Government Official Photo ID, Driver's License, or Passport

  • (c) - Medical Certificate


See 61.3 for more information

*Tab out and highlight key points on page 43 of the FAR/AIM 61.3 for: Required Documents*

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