Who can be a pilot?

There is no “right” type of person to become a pilot. Aviators come from all kinds of backgrounds, each with unique reasons for flying. The good news is, you can take lessons at any age—there is no minimum and no maximum.

Some requirements to keep in mind:

  • You must be 16 years old to solo an airplane (or 14 for a glider)
  • You must be 17 years old to carry passengers (Sport, Recreational or Private certificate)
  • For the Recreational and Sport certificates, you will need to pass a Third Class Medical exam. This isn’t a big deal – read why
  • You must be able to read and speak English

And no, you don’t have to be a math genius or have perfect health. Attitude is more important than age or skill. A commitment to take the training seriously, and stick with it will serve you well. Learning to fly is a long, sometimes arduous journey marked by elation and occasional frustration. The process will be easier, and more enjoyable, if you can maintain a positive, always learning attitude.

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John knows how lucky he is to go to work every day at an airport. As Vice President of Sporty’s Pilot Shop’s Catalog Division, he says, “I get to hang around airplanes all the time, flying regularly and testing new products for the catalog.” Coming from an aviation family, John grew up in the back of small airplanes and learned to fly as a teenager. Ever since, he has been hooked on anything with wings and regularly flies a Citabria, a Pilatus PC-12 and a Robinson R44 helicopter. Despite his love of low and slow flight, John says, “I love the challenge of IFR flying in the system. Seeing the runway lights as you break out on approach is a thrill.”