Student Pilot Solo Requirements


Have you started flight training? Eager to fly the airplane by yourself? Not so fast - make sure you know the rules for flying solo! Here are the requirements and limitations for solo flight by a student pilot: 


  • Must be at least 16 years old.
  • Must be able to read, speak, write and understand the English language.
  • Must have a student pilot certificate and at least a Third-Class medical certificate. (These are usually the same document, but not always!) 
  • Must pass a written knowledge test covering Parts 61 and 91 of the Federal Aviation Regulations, airspace rules, and regulations and flight characteristics and operational limitations for the make and model of aircraft to be flown.  
  • Must receive and log flight training from a certified flight instructor on the maneuvers and procedures appropriate to the make and model of aircraft to be flown, and demonstrate satisfactory proficiency in these maneuvers, including those listed in  14 CFR 61.87
    • Proper flight preparation procedures, including preflight planning and preparation, powerplant operation, and aircraft systems
    • Taxiing or surface operations, including run-ups
    • Takeoffs and landings, including normal and crosswind
    • Straight and level flight, and turns in both directions
    • Climbs and climbing turns
    • Airport traffic patterns, including entry and departure procedures
    • Collision avoidance, wind shear avoidance, and wake turbulence avoidance
    • Descents, with and without turns, using high and low drag configurations
    • Flight at various airspeeds from cruise to slow flight
    • Stall entries from various flight attitudes and power combinations with recovery initiated at the first indication of a stall, and recovery from a full stall
    • Emergency procedures and equipment malfunctions
    • Ground reference maneuvers
    • Approaches to a landing area with simulated engine malfunctions
    • Slips to a landing
    • Go-arounds


In addition to having certain privileges, a solo student pilot also has some restrictions. A solo student must not act as pilot in command of an airplane:

  • at night (without the proper training and endorsement)
  • while carrying passengers
  • more than 25 nautical miles from the home airport (without a proper endorsement)
  • carry property for compensation or hire
  • when the flight visibility is less than 3 statute miles 
  • without visual reference to the ground
  • contrary to any limitations placed in the student's logbook by the instructor 
  • on an international flight
  • in furtherance of a business

Source: 14 CFR 61.87 and 14 CFR 61.89