The number of pilots is getting smaller every year, as fuel costs rise and the average age of recreational pilots increases. To stem the tide, the FAA introduced a new category of certificate in 2004 called Sport Pilot. To earn one you only need 20 hours flight time instead of 40, and you don't need to learn as much written material. Some schools, like Blue Ridge Sport Flight in Hendersonville, NC, offer accelerated training that can allow a student to earn a Sport Pilot certificate in as few as nine days. One big advantage to the Sport Pilot license: You also don't need to pass a physical – if you're healthy enough to have a driver's license, you're healthy enough to fly Sport Pilot. The drawback is that you can't fly and night, you can't fly for money, and you're limited to a class of plane called Light Sport Aircraft that can only carry one passenger and are limited to a top speed of 138 mph. Ultimately, if you're serious about flying, you can always get your Pilot's license later.
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