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A Private Pilot License is the most common certificate held by pilots. The FAA does provide for two lesser certifications (Recreational Pilot and Sport Pilot), however most people quickly realize that those certifications carry significant restrictions on allowable aircraft, night flight and distance that you may fly from your home airport, making a Private Pilot License the most flexible choice.

Have question about learning to fly? Checkout our FAQ now!


As a Private Pilot, you may:

In order to obtain a Private Pilot License, you will need:


Congratulations – you have earned your Private Pilot License, and have become proficient at flying VFR. The next logical step in your pilot training is an Instrument rating. Not only does being instrument-rated refine your flying skills far beyond those of a regular VFR pilot and add important new abilities, it also is an incredibly useful addition to your flying privileges. Whether it is the typical Bay Area morning marine layer over the field or clouds on your flight path to your destination, an Instrument Rating will allow you to be on your way instead of sitting on the ground. From a safety perspective, an Instrument Rating is an invaluable asset: IFR does not mean bad-weather flying, it means safe flying.

With an Instrument Rating, you are able to:

In order to obtain an Instrument Rating, you will need:


A Commercial Pilot Certificate is a significant step towards becoming a professional pilot. This license type allows you to operate as a paid pilot. It builds on the skills learned as a private pilot, but with tighter restriction on the class of Medical Certificate you must hold (second class required), and the pilot must be able to demonstrate superior airmanship with a series of performance maneuvers held to a higher standard than previous certificates. There are separate single and multiple engine commercial ratings, and pilots will be required to obtain a type rating for different larger aircraft. This does not enable you to act as a pilot in a scheduled passenger airline – for that, you will need an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate.

A commercial pilot may act as pilot of an aircraft and be paid for the work.

To obtain a Commercial Pilot License, you will need:

A full list of commercial pilot aeronautical experience requirements can be found in FAR 61.129 – the main requirements are: