Updated: Nov 16
You’re (almost) ready to solo, how exciting! For your safety and the safety of the general population, its a good thing that the average joe has several requirements before jumping in the left seat as Pilot in Command. You’ll need a few things ready in hand before you get to take flight on your first solo.
1. Logbook & Endorsement
Every hour counts, so I’m sure you’ve been keeping track of every minute you’ve spent in the aircraft. Not only do you need logged hours to prove your training to your DPE (Designated Pilot Examiner) before you can earn a license or rating, but you need something vitally important before you can solo… an endorsement. Start logging hours with your new student logbook.
There is no “minimum flight hour requirement” specified by the FAA before you can solo, but many flight schools have their own rules to ensure the safety of their students. However, you must have an endorsement signed by your instructor stating that you have received the training necessary for you to be a safe pilot.
When your instructor signs your solo endorsement, their name is on the line (literally and figuratively). Your success or otherwise will directly reflect on him or her, because your new solo privilege is endorsed solely by your instructor. This is why your instructor will not endorse you unless you are absolutely ready!
Your instructor will know you are ready for a solo endorsement after completing ground and flight training to ensure that you know all of the necessary information. Furthermore, they will administer a written exam that you must complete and review before flight. Dauntless Test Prep is a great resource to ensure that you pass your written exam.
2. Medical Certificate
Per FAR AIM § 61.113, you must carry your medical certificate at all times when exercising your privileges even as a student pilot.
To fly as a student or private pilot, you’ll need at least a third class medical. You’ll get this by visiting an authorized FAA Medical Examiner for a physical. They will assess your eyesight, hearing test, urinalysis, and ask questions regarding your health. The “tests” are fairly basic and the requirements will increase depend on which medical you need (third, second, first class).
3. Student Pilot License and Gov. Issued ID
Just like you need to carry your driver’s license to operate a car, you’ll need your student pilot license and government issued photo ID with you before you take flight. Luckily, this is probably the first thing you and your instructor did together - apply for your student pilot certificate. Along with your student pilot certificate, your other ID can be your driver’s license, passport, or birth certificate.
Picture this. You have all of the required essentials with you: Logbook with signed endorsement from your instructor, third class medical certificate, student pilot certificate, and one government issued photo ID. You’re legal to fly.
As a private pilot, you’ll be flying farther than the pattern for a few touch and go-s. In that case, you’ll want to check out this blog post for everything you might need in your flight bag.
Check out resources you'll need as a private pilot!
Purchase your logbook here.
BFR - By far the most concise well organized VFR flight review book on the market.
Private Pilot Oral Exam Guide - Updated to reflect vital FAA regulatory, procedural, and training changes, this indispensable tool prepares private pilots for their checkride.
FAR AIM 2021 - Federal Aviation Regulations/Aeronautical Information Manual