At What Age Can You Be a Pilot?

How old do you have to be to be a pilot? The fact is, you can learn how to fly an airplane under the supervision of a certified flight instructor as soon as you can physically reach the pedals and controls to operate it safely. However, to get your own pilot’s license and fly solo, you will need to meet some age requirements. Let’s look into the minimum age requirements to become a pilot.

What Is The Youngest Age You Can Get a Pilot’s License?

Person taking pilot license exam

Determining at what age you can be a pilot depends on what type of license you are seeking and what kind of aircraft you want to fly.

Student Pilot Certificate

You can be certified to fly gliders or balloons if you are at least 14 years old. Otherwise, you will need to be at least 16 years old to apply for a student pilot license. You must also be able to read, speak, and understand English. You can learn to fly with an instructor in the aircraft without a student pilot certificate, but you cannot log solo flight hours without one.

  • Minimum age requirement: 16 for airplane, gyroplane, or airship; 14 for gliders and balloons

Sport Pilot License

For a pilot license that does not require a medical certificate, you can explore a sport pilot license. This license allows you to fly Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) during daytime hours. The FAA includes gliders, powered parachutes (ultra-lights), weight shift control aircraft (trikes), and lighter than air aircraft in this category.

  • Minimum age requirement: 17 years; 16 for gliders and balloons

Recreational Pilot License

Small private airplane on tarmac.

If you would like to pilot a more powerful aircraft, but don’t need to carry many passengers or go far from home, you can choose a recreational pilot license. This certification allows you to fly a single engine airplane up to 180 horsepower and carry one passenger with distance and time of day restrictions.

  • Minimum age requirement: 17 years old; must pass written and practical FAA exams, but fewer required flight hours than a private pilot

Private Pilot License

If you want to fly across the country, fly at night, and carry more than one passenger, you will need at least a Private Pilot Certificate. This is also the first step to moving to a commercial or ATP license. Your PPL will list what types of aircraft you are rated to fly and any other restrictions. Additional training will allow you to lift many of the restrictions on a basic PPL.

  • Minimum age for a private pilot: 17 years of age; must pass written and practical FAA exams and log minimum flight hours

Commercial Pilot License

If you want to earn money as a pilot, this is the right license to seek. With a commercial pilot license you can tow banners, spray crops, fly tours, and transport paying passengers. Additional training with this license also sets you up as a certified flight instructor.

  • Minimum age requirement: 18 years old; able to fly single and dual engine aircraft by passing written and practical exams and logging required solo, night time, and cross country flight hours

Airline Transport Pilot License (ATP)

Doctor providing medical certificate to student pilot.

If you want to have a career flying for a commercial airline, you will need an Airline Transport Pilot license or ATPL. You will need to complete more classroom and flight hours for this certification and study crew management, passenger safety, and many other aeronautical topics. Jet simulator training is part of the course. Then you will need to pass a rigorous written and practical exam.

  • Minimum age requirements: 21 years of age for a restricted ATPL, 23 for an unrestricted ATPL; pilots under the age of 23 can serve as First Officers or Co-pilots, but cannot be the Captain of the aircraft

Will I Need a Medical Certificate?

You will not need a medical certificate to attend flight school, but before you can fly solo in an airplane you will need to pass an AME medical exam. Those with a third or second class medical rating may be limited to recreational and private pilot licenses, so before you invest in airline pilot training, it is good to get your medical clearance out of the way.

Become a Pilot at Almost Any Age

Private airplanes on tarmac at Kingsky Flight Academy.

Even if you are too young to get a student pilot license, you can still become a student pilot at Kingsky Flight Academy and gain the skills and knowledge you need while flying under the supervision of one of our experienced instructors. As long as you can reach and operate the controls and see out the windshield, you are big enough to fly. Enroll in flight training with us today or contact us with your questions about becoming a pilot at any age!



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