A common questions people have when considering which pilot’s license is best for them is what the difference is between a recreational pilot’s license and a sport pilot license. This is a great questions since these two licenses have a lot in common as well as some differences.
The difference between the recreational pilot license and sport pilot license is that the sport pilot license is meant for pilots who will only be flying light sport aircraft (under 1320lbs) and do not need a medical certification. The recreational pilot license does allow you to fly larger aircraft (like a Cessna 172) but requires more training hours and a medical exam.
Things they have in common
The recreational and sport pilot licenses have a lot in common. This includes:
- Both are meant for those who want to fly for fun – you cannot charge for your services
- Both allow only 1 passenger in the aircraft
- Both require you to fly during the day and with good weather (VFR only)
- Both require you to fly a singe engine aircraft
- Nether allow you to fly at night
Main differences between them
There are also some key differences between these licenses. These include:
- The sport pilot license does not require a medical certification while the recreational pilot license does.
- The recreational pilot license allows you to fly larger aircraft commonly flown by those with a private pilot license
- The sport pilot license requires you to fly only “light sport aircraft” that meet certain FAA requirements like being under 1320 pounds and only having 2 seats
- The sport pilot license requires only 20 hours of flight instruction while the recreational pilot license requires 30 hours of flight time
- The sport pilot license is typically cheaper to obtain since it requires less flight time
Which is right for you?
When you’re beginning your journey to earn your pilot’s license, this can be a tough choice. Here are some of the factors that might help you make a definite decision.
If you want to be able to fly larger aircraft like Cessna’s so you can gain the experience to someday get your private or other pilot license, the recreational pilot license is the place to start.
If you think you might have a problem earning your medical certification, then you should go with the sport pilot license since it isn’t required.
Related: Complete guide on FAA Medical Exam
If you’ve looked at both licenses and still aren’t sure which is best, I would contact the local flight school you were planning on working with and talk through it with one of the flight instructors. They will be able to give you their perspective based on your objectives and goals.
Learn more about the Sport Pilot License
If you think that a sport pilot license is right for you and you’d like more details on the requirements, costs, and other details, make sure to check out our complete guide on it.
Learn more about the Recreational Pilot License
If you think that the Recreational Pilot License is better fit for you, we also have a complete guide on that as well.