If you’re an existing pilot who has decided to operate under sport pilot rules, you may be transitioning to an unfamiliar aircraft as part of that process. If that’s the case, then you really need to obtain some level of transition training.
Even a high-time pilot with considerable GA experience will need some instruction before moving from something like a Cessna 172 or Piper Cherokee to a lightweight composite two-seater, for example. These aircraft are light by definition, and that means that they’ll have a very different feel, not to mention the possibility of different control types (stick vs. yoke) and, in many cases, modern avionics in the form of glass cockpits. If you’re going the other direction, chronologically speaking, you might need specialized tailwheel instruction, as another example.
Transition training becomes more than just a great idea when moving to a new category/class; at that point, it’s a legal necessity. Having flown thousands of hours in typical GA aircraft doesn’t mean you can jump in, say, a weight-shift trike or powered parachute and go. The control mechanisms are considerably different, as is the overall experience of flying in the open, to name just two considerations.
There are three steps required when transitioning to another category/class as a sport pilot:
- Receive training from an instructor in the knowledge and operation areas required for the new category/class. Your instructor will endorse your logbook when you are proficient.
- Successfully complete a proficiency check from another instructor (other than the one who trained you). Upon successful completion of the proficiency check, the instructor will endorse your logbook certifying that you may fly the new category/class.
- Your instructor will complete FAA Form 8710-11 and submit it to the FAA Airmen Certification Branch in order to have the new category/class recorded in your airman record.
With these things in mind, your next step is to find an instructor near you.