The basic requirements explained for student pilots’ first solo.

student pilot solo requirements

Longing to get your first solo flight?

The training time required to get the first solo flight is subjective. Getting your first solo depends on how soon you can meet the requirements.

Without understanding the requirements, you won’t have a plan, and without a plan, you’ll hinder from getting your first solo.

Some student pilots might get their first solo after flying for thirty hours. Regardless, getting your first solo within the first 15 hours is ideal. Thus, training frequently is essential to get your first solo at the ideal time.

Furthermore, to have a plan and act accordingly, you must understand the requirements in this article.

Similarly, discuss the requirements with your CFI and tell him you want to solo as quickly as possible.

A veteran flight instructor can help you learn aircraft maneuvering fast.

Requirements student pilots must meet to get their first solo flight.

There are some minimum requirements before one can get their first solo flight. The condition includes the following:

  • Minimum age requirements;
  • Passing the pre-solo exam to prove your aeronautical proficiency;
  • Training requirements as per FAR/AIM Section 61.87;
  • Flight time requirements.

Minimum age requirements to get your first solo:

A student pilot must be at least 16 years old to get their first solo flight. But there is nuance to this number.

A student pilot can learn the essential flying maneuvers to solo at 14/15 years old.

But, the original requirement is related to getting a student pilot certificate (license).

A student pilot certificate is required to operate an aircraft solo. On the other hand, the age requirement to obtain a student pilot certificate is 16 years old.

Hence, you must be 16 years old to get released for your first solo flight. Your flight instructor can’t endorse you for a solo flight unless you get your student pilot certificate.

Thus wait until you’re 16 years old to begin your flight training. Let’s move on to the subsequent requirement.

Additional documents to verify you’re ready to solo.

You must hold a class three medical certificate to get your student pilot certificate.

It’s a requirement to diagnose and get a class three medical certificate from a designated doctor to be eligible for a student pilot certificate (license).

Thus, to be eligible to get your first solo flight, you must have the following:

  • A class 3 medical certificate;
  • A student pilot certificate/license;
  • Pass your pre-solo written exam.

Pass the pre-solo exam to prove your aeronautical proficiency.

The pre-solo exam is a requirement by the FAA. A CFI must conduct a pre-solo exam to determine whether a student is ready for a solo flight.

If the student fails the pre-solo exam, the flight instructor must retake it until they pass.

Before retaking the exam, the flight instructor must discuss all the incorrect answers. Here the flight instructor must explain the subjects again to clarify the confusion of a student pilot.

Passing the pre-solo exam is a critical aspect of flight safety. The pre-solo exam is what the name suggests.

The pre-solo exam determines your ability to comprehend aeronautics and flight safety facts in detail.

The pre-solo exam will be on the following subjects:

  • Part 61 and Part 91 of the Federal Aviation Regulations;
  • Airspace rules and airport operational procedures for the airport where the student will perform their first solo flight;
  • Characteristics and functional limitations of the aircraft model that the student pilot will use for solo flight.
How to prepare for the pre-solo exam?

Buy a FAR/AIM and study PART 61 and PART 91. You don’t have to memorize everything but read thoroughly to understand the rules and regulations.

Get the Pilot Operating Handbook for the aircraft you fly.

Memorize the limitations of your aircraft and remember the vital information from that book. You’ll find several questions on the aircraft type limitations on your pre-solo exam.

The best practice is to memorize emergency procedures that will help you for your flight. Likewise, it will help you pass the pre-solo knowledge test.

Passing the pre-solo exam won’t be problematic, assuming you have finished your private pilot ground school.

Training requirements as per FAR/AIM Section 61.87.

Your flight instructor will release you for a solo flight once he believes in you. You must demonstrate your ability to operate, take off, and land an aircraft in certain conditions.

Your CFI is responsible for training you in specific skills according to FAR/AIM Section 61.87.

How quickly you can learn the maneuvers and the skills to operate an aircraft safely is your caliber.

However, becoming proficient in flying takes a while. Typically, student pilots get their first solo flight between 10 to 30 hours.

You may ask why one takes fewer flight hours than the other. It depends on your flight instructor and how frequently you practice flying.

Some flight instructors are just splendid in articulating information making the information easy to catch on. Some instructors are good, but they can’t articulate them transparently.

So early in your flight training, experiment by altering the flight instructor, and choosing a veteran flight instructor helps.

Experienced flight instructors typically demonstrate well during flight training. They’ll share tips and tricks to improve your flying skills.

Secondly, you must fly frequently. Flying more often restrains you from repeating lessons.

Usually, if you fly only once or twice a week, you will forget lessons from your previous flight. As a result, you need to repeat lessons multiple times to understand and grasp them.

Therefore, you would fly extra hours to learn the same lessons, and getting your solo flight at an ideal time will become challenging.

According to FAR/AIM Section 61.87, a student pilot must receive training and demonstrate their ability in the following before getting e a solo flight:

  • (1) Proper flight preparation procedures, including preflight planning and preparation, powerplant operation, and aircraft systems;
  • (2) Taxiing or surface operations, including runups;
  • (3) Takeoffs and landings, including normal and crosswind;
  • (4) Straight and level flight and turns in both directions;
  • (5) Climbs and climbing turns;
  • (6) Airport traffic patterns, including entry and departure procedures;
  • (7) Collision avoidance, windshear avoidance, and wake turbulence avoidance;
  • (8) Descents, with and without turns, using high and low drag configurations;
  • (9) Flight at various airspeeds from cruise to slow flight;
  • (10) 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;
  • (11) Emergency procedures and equipment malfunctions;
  • (12) Ground reference maneuvers;
  • (13) Approaches to a landing area with simulated engine malfunctions;
  • (14) Slips to a landing; and
  • (15) Go-arounds.


The bulleted list may seem overwhelming. But the reality is these operational procedures are the minimum requirements by FAA.

During flight training, your instructor will teach you everything listed above. It’s part of the process.

As you continue flight training, all these maneuvers and procedures will be second nature as a pilot.

But as previously mentioned, some students get their solo in less time than others. It is because some students learn the details quicker, and some prepare well for flight training.

You may ask how to prepare for flight training. Isn’t it all about learning inside the aircraft?

Yes, mostly, it’s about learning inside the aircraft in the sky.

But if you are an intelligent student, you would study the fundamentals of aeronautics beforehand. Thus many people tell to take the FAA private pilot written exam before starting flight training.

If you’re smart, you can anticipate the next move in flight training.

Learn the fundamentals from study materials, pass the FAA written exam, and take an online ground school.

By implementing the matters, you learn at your ground school and by practicing safety more often, you get your solo flight sooner than many other student pilots.

Some specific books and courses help you with technical flight training skills.

You may find such books and courses helpful, but you can become a proficient pilot by following your ground school lessons and involving realistic safety rules on your flight.

In contrast, I didn’t believe books could help with actual flying. However, the technical flying lessons from the book helped me to master flying in a shorter time.

I used the airplane flying handbook to learn individual things such as:

  • How to climb and descend;
  • When to level your aircraft and trim correctly to maintain a straight flight;
  • How to initiate a level flight from a turn smoothly;
  • Where to look while you are on final;
  • How to flare for a smooth landing;
  • How to correct to reduce the ground effect, etc.

You can find heaps of techniques in books and courses to accelerate learning. The sooner you learn, the quicker you’ll manage the student pilot solo requirements to get a solo.

Preparing for solo flight.

Fear holds back many from getting their first solo flight. By understanding the requirements and following the things I discussed in this article, you can overcome fear.

You’ll understand the significance of studying once you feel it builds confidence for actual flight.

Thus regardless of which method you use to prepare and study for your solo flight, you will be ready to get your solo.

You would have the assurance that no matter the consequence, you’re ready to take the challenge in the sky.

One major factor for a CFI to release a student pilot for their first solo flight is seeing how confident a student pilot is. If you can’t attain your instructor’s confidence in you yet, likely you’re not yet ready for the solo flight.

So studying indeed matters in preparing for your first solo flight. It’s one of the least spoken about, but it’s a crucial requirement for getting your solo flight.

You must meet flying and academic requirements to get your first solo as a student pilot. Unfortunately, studying is the least spoken of all requirements.


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