Private Pilot
Powered Parachute

Students laying out parachutes

Transitioning From a Sport Pilot to a Private Pilot Certificate with a Powered Parachute Rating

If you are a sport pilot, you are part of the way there already!

If you're a Sport Pilot with powered parachute privileges who would like to transition to a powered parachute Private Pilot rating, here are the things you have to do. The good news is that the training and testing covers a lot of the same areas that you already have accomplished, so you probably have a lot of the experience requirements met and the testing process will cover areas you are already familiar with. The bad news is that the additional training you need to receive is not widely available and examiners are even more rare.

Why do it?

The privileges of a Private Pilot are better than the privileges of a Sport Pilot. However, many of them aren't privileges that you may necessarily use. But before you commit the time and money for the rating, it is good to have a clear reason in mind. The three big reasons a pilot may want to become a Private Pilot for powered parachutes are:
  • The ability to legally fly at night.
  • Being able to fly higher than 10,000 feet MSL
  • And if you are an instructor...
    • You are able to instruct and endorse students for a Private Pilot rating. If you are a Sport Pilot CFI for powered parachutes and you become a Private Pilot with a powered parachute rating, you automatically get the privilege to instruct and recommend others for Private Pilot. There is no additional training, endorsements, or testing required.
    • You are able to increase the amount of time you can train others by flying into the night.

A comparison of the privileges between a sport pilot and a private pilot are:

Privilege or Limitation Sport Pilot Private Pilot
Fly a Passenger Yes Yes
Fly More that One Passenger No Yes
(Oh, yes. There are 3-seat powered parachutes!)
Fly at Night No Yes
Fly in Class B, C, and D airspace, at an airport located in Class B, C, or D airspace, and to, from, through, or at an airport having an operational control tower. Yes
(But only with Additional Training an Endorsement)
Fly in other countries Yes
(But only with prior authorization from the country in which you want to operate.)
Fly to demonstrate the aircraft in flight to a prospective buyer if you are an aircraft salesperson. No Yes
In a passenger-carrying airlift sponsored by a charitable organization. No Yes
At an altitude of more than 10,000 feet MSL. No Yes
When the flight or surface visibility is less than 3 statute miles. No Yes

The Requirements

The requirements to become a private pilot for powered parachutes are:

  • You must have a current third class medical.
  • You must pass the Private Pilot Powered Parachute Knowledge Test. (Unless you are already hold an airplane or rotorcraft private pilot or higher.)
  • You need to complete the following flight experience requirements. (We'll talk about this below.)
  • A person who applies for a private pilot certificate with a powered parachute category rating must log at least 25 hours of flight time in a powered parachute that includes
    • at least 10 hours of flight training with an authorized instructor* including 30 takeoffs and landings, and
    • 10 hours of solo flight training in the areas of operation listed in ยง61.107 (b)(9)
  • The training must include at least -
    • 1 hour of cross-country flight training in a powered parachute that includes a 1-hour cross-country flight with a landing at an airport at least 25 nautical miles from the airport of departure;
    • 3 hours of night flight training in a powered parachute that includes 10 takeoffs and landings (with each landing involving a flight in the traffic pattern) at an airport;
    • 3 hours of flight training in preparation for the practical test in a powered parachute, which must have been performed within the 60-day period preceding the date of the test; and
    • 3 hours of solo flight time in a powered parachute, consisting of at least-
      • 1 solo cross-country flight with a landing at an airport at least 25 nautical miles from the departure airport; and
      • 20 solo takeoffs and landings to a full stop (with each landing involving a flight in a traffic pattern) at an airport
      • At least 3 of the 20 takeoffs and landings must be at an airport with an operating control tower.
  • You need a recommendation from a Certified Flight Instructor who is himself a Powered Parachute Private Pilot*.
  • You need to get a check ride from 1 of the 6 (as of 2019) Designated Pilot Examiners authorized to provide check rides for Powered Parachute Private Pilots. Roy Beisswenger is one of those six individuals.

Comments on the Requirements

First, a third class medical is not that big of a deal, but you will need one. For some pilots, this may be the reason to remain flying at the Sport Pilot level. That is because if you fail the third class medical, you are out of the flying business until you get that straightened out. That can cost you time and money. If you have concerns about the medical, talk to private pilots you know about the medical providers in your area. There are good ones and not-so-good ones. Then, talk to the doctor about your situation BEFORE you make the appointment and the examination begins.

The Private Pilot Powered Parachute Knowledge Test is a whole lot like the Sport Pilot Powered Parachute Knowledge Test. But study for it anyway since there are some different questions and you could probably use the review.

All of your solo time from flying as a sport pilot counts towards your rating. That is a big advantage you have over someone starting out new.

* Your dual training may or may not count. Here is the training that you may have (or can get) which will count:

  • Flight Training in a powered parachute from a Powered Parachute CFI (Sport or Private).
  • Flight Training for operations at an operating control tower can be provided by a CFI (sport or private pilot) who already has the endorsement/privilege for flying in controlled airspace.
  • Night Flight Training from a Private Pilot Powered Parachute CFI.
  • Flight Training from a CFI who can instruct as a Sport Pilot Powered Parachute and who also is a Private Pilot - Airplane Single Engine Land, can apply to the EAA for an exemption to do the training and recommending endorsements for a student working on his/her Private Pilot Powered Parachute Rating.
  • Your recommendation for the Private Pilot Powered Parachute rating must come from a Private Pilot Powered Parachute CFI.

The important thing is to talk to your CFI to see what his status is and -if you have any further questions- contact a DPE who is able to provide the final testing since they know the requirements better than anyone.