How Far Can A Student Pilot Fly Solo?

If you have your sights set on becoming a pilot one day, you’ll first need to begin your flight journey by attending a flight school program, or something of a similar nature.

While you can certainly fly an aircraft while in training, the distance is usually capped to a maximum distance of between 25-50 nautical miles.

How far can a student pilot fly solo

However, cross-country flights are sometimes allowed for more advanced students, which can be around 75 miles or even more.

If you are a student currently wondering this, we recommend talking to your flight instructor, who will be able to provide you with exact distances. 

There are also a few limitations that you’ll need to keep in mind if you plan on embarking on your first solo flight, alongside the distance limitations. They are the following:

  • You must be at least 16 years of age.
  • You must have a student pilot certificate, as well as a third-class medical certificate. Keep in mind, usually, your student pilot and a medical certificate will be one overall document, though this is not always the case. 
  • You need to be receiving log flight training from a certified flight instructor, who is covering all of the necessary procedures and maneuvers required to fly an aircraft alone, plus more.
  • You must be able to fluently speak, write and understand English. 

Can a student pilot carry passengers?

While a student pilot license is a necessary requirement on the road to becoming a professional pilot, it does naturally come with some limitations.

The main limitation of a student pilot license is that the student is the ability to transport from one destination to another, and that includes the ability to carry both passengers and property.

In other words, student pilots are not allowed to carry passengers because they have not yet gained enough experience, flight hours, or necessary certifications and licenses to be able to safely and confidently fly with passengers aboard. 

In the meantime, the only additional person that will be aboard each flight will be the flight instructor, who will be responsible for the overall safety and smooth operation of the flight, while also training the student. 

Can a student pilot fly solo at night?

Usually, flying at night is a necessary part of a student’s training, as it helps the student to learn about the difference in operating an aircraft in low light conditions as opposed to the daytime.

Nevertheless, there are some general limitations for student pilots that wish to operate an aircraft on a solo flight at nighttime:

  • You will need to have received training on night flying procedures, including approaches, landings, takeoffs, and go-arounds, specifically at the airport in which the solo flight is planning to be carried out.
  • You will need to have undertaken navigation training at night, in a nearby radius to the airport where the solo flight will be carried out. 
  • You will need to have an endorsement made in your student logbook for the specific aircraft you are going to be flying during the solo night flight. This will need to be given by an authorized instructor who has been giving you flight training within a 90 day period before the planned day of the night flight. 

How far can a student pilot fly?

As you undertake the journey of becoming a professional pilot, you’ll quickly come to know that one of the most important requirements on the road to getting employed is to rack up something known as flight hours.

In a nutshell, flight hours are the amount of logged time you have spent flying an aircraft (both solo and with the help of an instructor) and many airlines require prospective pilots to have at least 3000 flight hours under their belt.

The good news is that, as a student, there are no limits on how far you can fly with your instructor, as they will be in charge of flight planning and determining routes. 

When you first begin flying an aircraft during your training, your flight instructor will plan short trips that won’t stray too far from your airport.

However, as your confidence increases, your instructor will plan longer flights with you, with many even choosing to embark on cross-country flights!

How long is a student pilot solo endorsement good for?

As you undertake training to become a professional pilot as a student, there will come a time when you have acquired the skills and requirements to begin learning how to fly an aircraft solo.

When it is time for you to take the next step and fly solo, your flight instructor will endorse your student certificate, which means that you will then be able to fly an aircraft on your own.

As soon as your flight instructor endorses your student certificate, you will then have 90 days to conduct solo flights before your solo privileges will be revoked, which means that as soon as the allocated time period runs out, you will no longer be able to fly solo.

Usually, your flight instructor will simply endorse your certificate immediately after it runs out, so that the 90 day period is once again renewed, and you are able to continue flying your aircraft solo.

In addition to this, it’s worth noting that as soon as the 90 day endorsement period has begun, you will be free to also conduct cross-country flights in addition to the standard, pre-planned routes near your airport.

If you wish to do this, you will need to gain the permission of your flight instructor, who will carefully review your proposed plans to fly cross-country, and then endorse your logbook if the cross-country flight route is approved.

As a side note, the flight planner who endorses your cross-country flight does not need to be your normal instructor. 

What are the weather minimums for a student pilot flying solo?

Generally speaking, the weather minimums for a student pilot will be something that is discussed and agreed upon between students and their flight instructor.

However, for student pilots flying VFR, it is widely accepted that the weather minimums are 3 miles visibility 500 feet below, 1000 feet above, and 2000 feet across.

In addition to this, there are also weather minimums imposed for the crosswind.

These are usually very strict for student pilots who are just starting out, and the flight instructor will usually give a limit somewhere around the vicinity of 20 degrees of runway heading that is less than 10 knots. 

However, as the student progresses and gains experience, these limits are usually relaxed somewhat. 

As for flying solo, the weather minimums will greatly depend on the circumstances.

If you are going to be taking the aircraft out completely alone, then the weather minimums will be discussed and agreed upon with your flight instructor before the flight takes place, so that you are completely prepared.

For safety, the weather minimums are usually quite strict for these types of solo flights.

In contrast, if your flight instructor is going to be on board, then your flight instructor may choose to relax the limits in order to provide you with a challenge.

These types of solo flights will grant you more freedom, as the presence of your instructor will serve as peace of mind that you are not alone, which will give you the confidence to experience flying an aircraft with different minimums than you’re used to.

Who is the pilot in command during a student solo flight?

According to current regulations, there is only one time in which a student pilot can be considered to be a pilot in command, and this is when a student pilot is planning on embarking on a solo flight.

In this instance, the student is considered to be the pilot in command of the aircraft, and due to that, means that they will be able to then log the flight time in their logbook after the flight has completed rather than their flight instructor, which is usual aviation protocol. 

However, it’s important to note that this is only the case for student pilots who are the sole occupant of the aircraft. If an authorized flight instructor is present for the flight, then the pilot in command will be the flight instructor.

In addition, it’s important to remember that student pilots are only ever able to fly an aircraft solo if they have been given permission from their regular flight instructor, who will be able to provide them with a 90-day endorsement.