When becoming a pilot you have the choice of several different certifications. However, two of the most basic certifications are the recreational license and the private pilot license. While they have many similarities there are several opportunities that a private pilot license will allow for that a recreational license will not.
Choosing the right license for you doesn’t have to be difficult: you just need to know your goals and what each license will allow you to do. If you are wondering which of these two licenses to choose from take a look at the following eight opportunities you have as a private pilot. You may find you want to be able to take part in them, or that they don’t fit into the spectrum of your needs and desires.
1. No Limit To Passengers or Seats
A private pilot license allows you to carry as many passengers as your aircraft can legally carry opposed to only one passenger with a recreational license. This opens up more opportunities to use your plane. Think family trip, or giving a group of friends the best view of the mountains they have ever seen.
2. Possibility to Fly Different Aircrafts
A recreational license allows you to fly an aircraft with only one engine. While this is typical for the private pilot license as well, you have the capability to switch to an aircraft with more than one engine. To do this you will most likely need more training and special endorsements showing your capabilities as a pilot. However, once you have the necessary training and endorsements you have a large selection of airplanes to choose from.
3. More Horsepower
With a private pilots license you are generally able to fly aircraft with 200 horsepower instead of only 180 as with a recreational license. However, similar to the extra training and endorsements you would need to fly more than one engine you may be allowed to increase that 200 hp limit with extra work on your part.
4. Higher Altitude and Less Airspace Limitations
You can fly in all airspace classes except for Class A which would require you to fly according to instrument flight rules (IFR) instead of visual flight rules (VFR). A recreational license will only allow you to fly in Class G and E airspace up to 10,000 feet unless flying over a mountain. If you want to fly in Class A airspace you would need to become instrument rated. However, you still get to fly in 4 out of 5 classes with a private pilot license and up to 18,000 feet. You can also fly outside of a 50 mile radius, which gives you much more freedom.
5. Night Flying
Flying in the day time is great, and many pilots may feel more comfortable with this. However, being allowed to fly at night opens up many more opportunities, and is something you cannot do with a recreational license. For example, If you plan on taking a cross country trip you have more usable hours if you can fly at night. There is also the chance that you may need to use your plane for a night time emergency. Whatever the case, the choice is yours to make as long as you have received the necessary training.
6. Business Related Trip
If you have to make a trip to a different city for business it may make sense to fly, and if you have a private pilot license you can fly yourself. However, this can’t be confused with getting paid to fly. To do that you would need to get a commercial license in addition to your private pilot license. You can, however, share the cost of flight related expenses with any passengers you may have even a business associate.
7. Flight Outside of the United States
Imagine flying over the jungles of South America, the blue waters of Australia, or the snowy mountains in Europe. With a private pilot license you can fly practically anywhere outside of the U.S. as long as you comply with the requirements of the foreign country you are flying in. This might be the most exciting possibility the private pilot license allows for. It would make an already exciting vacation even better.
8. For Charity
One of the greatest gifts of flight is being able to use it for the benefit of others. As a private pilot you are able to participate in charity flights. These flights are sightseeing flights, and can be used to help raise money for just about any person or group. The FAA has specific rules for these flights, but as long as you follow them you have the ability to use your passion to help others.
Every type of certification lends itself to certain uses. The type of certification you choose should be based on your goals and lifestyle. A recreational license is just as good as a private pilot license, but does not give the pilot as many opportunities. For this reason most pilots pursue at least a private pilot license. Find your niche and check your goals, then pursue what is right for you.
If you want to learn more about becoming a private pilot check out our Private Pilot Course.