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The Sport Flying revolution began in 2004, when the Federal Aviation Administration, (FAA), working closely with the Experimental Aircraft Association, (EAA), created what has been called, “The biggest change in aviation in 50 years.” They created an entirely new category of aircraft, Light Sport Aircraft (LSA), as well as a new category of pilot license, Sport Pilot, both aimed specifically at consumer recreational flying. Now, the dream of flight is more accessible and more affordable than ever before.

It’s flying pure and simple ~ with fewer complexities

In conjunction with the 2004 creation of Light Sport Aircraft category, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) created the Sport Pilot License (SPL). The SPL is a new type of pilot certificate designed to get you safely and easily trained for recreational flying in Light Sport Aircraft. By restricting recreational flying for sport pilots to daytime, good weather, and in uncongested airspace, much of the complexities of learning to fly have been removed.

As a result, the time and cost commitment to learn to fly are now half what they previously were. New pilots can be safely trained in a matter of weeks, versus months. Additionally, all hours logged sport flying can be applied toward higher pilot ratings, like the Private Pilot License. As a result, the new SPL is perfectly suited for beginner pilots, even as they aspire to eventually fly larger, more complex, transportation aircraft.

Sport Pilot License

  • Training cost (estimated): $3,000-$5,000
  • Type of airplane: Any that meets LSA classification
  • In-flight training: 20 hours (minimum)
  • Medical Requirements: Drivers License or FAA Medical
  • Minimum Age: 17
  • Certification Process: must pass an FAA written and practical examination
  • Flying at night: No
  • Flying cross country: Yes
  • Flight in inclement weather or clouds: No
  • Flight in controlled airspace: Yes with additional instructor sign-off
  • Occupants: 2 (pilot and passenger)
  • Altitude limit: 10,000 ft. MSL (mean sea level)

Partial contents of table courtesy of EAA.

For more information, visit the EAA at sportpilot.org or the AOPA at aopa.org.


Light Sport Airplanes built to be safe, fun, and affordable

In creating the new Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) classification of planes in 2004, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) filled the much-needed performance and price gap between less sophisticated ultralight aircraft and larger, more complex transportation focused aircraft. Since LSA are targeted to recreational pilots who primarily fly for fun, LSA are designed to be affordable, lightweight, and easy to operate. All Searey seaplanes are classified as S-LSA (special-light sport aircraft), which are factory built, ready-to-fly aircraft. All LSA are inspected and receive an airworthiness certificate from the FAA prior to flight.

  • 1,320 pounds (598.74 kg) maximum takeoff weight (1,430 pounds for seaplanes) (648.64 kg)

  • Maximum airspeed of 120 knots (138 mph) (222 kmh)

  • Maximum two-person seating capacity (pilot + passenger)

  • Single, reciprocating engine

  • Fixed or ground-adjustable propeller

  • Non-pressurized cabin

  • Fixed landing gear (retractable gear allowed for seaplanes)

  • Maximum stall speed of 45 knots (52 mph) (83 kmh)

For more information, visit the EAA at sportpilot.org and the AOPA at aopa.org


Sport Pilot License - Light Sport Aircraft

The origin of today’s sport flying is deeply rooted in safety. In creating the new rules for sport pilots in 2004, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recognized that the former rules were based on the complexities of transportation-based flying, even though the majority of airspace outside of congested commercial airports goes vastly unused, except by recreational pilots.

The FAA also recognized that two of the more demanding and riskier flying activities for pilots – flying at night and flying in bad weather – weren’t necessary for recreational pilots. Therefore, the FAA took these factors into consideration when they created the Sport Pilot license and Light Sport Aircraft categories. Specifically, the FAA redefined recreational flying and spelled out limitations on when and where (daylight hours, good weather, uncontrolled airspace) and what (simple, light sport aircraft) sport pilots can fly.

Because of the limitations, training for sport pilots instead focuses on the basic fundamentals for flying. No need to log extra hours and training to cover more complex skills for transportation flying that are not required for sport flying. In addition, by creating the Light Sport Aircraft category, which limits the weight, speed and complexity of the aircraft, manufacturers are able to build aircraft optimized for the safe operation of aircraft for recreation only.

In parallel with the FAA, Searey Aircraft’s philosophy is to be at the forefront of safety by establishing an uncompromised safety standard at every step of design and production. Searey’s world-class team of engineers has designed an aircraft that is easier to fly and provides a broad array of safety features that go above and beyond FAA requirements.