Glad to hear you're interested in flying .... or are you asking for a
young friend or relative?
Doesn't matter - the answer's the same. There is NO legal requirement
or restrictions on age for taking flying lessons. A student of ANY
age, young or old, can take flying lessons, provided, of course, that
(s)he can find an instructor willing to teach and, in the case of a
young student, has the permission and a legal liability release signed
by his/her responsible parent/guardian.
There IS a legal age, however, to qualify for a student pilot
CERTIFICATE, which is essentially just a 3rd Class Medical
Certificate, and without which you cannot legally solo an aircraft or
earn a license:
"To be eligible for a student pilot certificate, an applicant must:
(a) Be at least 16 years of age for other than the operation of a
glider or balloon.
(b) Be at least 14 years of age for the operation of a glider or
(FAR Part 61.83)
"To be eligible for a private pilot certificate, a person must:
(a) Be at least 17 years of age for a rating in other than a glider or
(b) Be at least 16 years of age for a rating in a glider or balloon."
(FAR Part 61.103)
There are many other regulations governing exactly what you can do
within these broad general guidelines. All of the legal requirements
regarding pilot certification are spelled out in excruciating detail
in Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Chapter 1,
Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs), Part 61. Learning these
regulations is one of the first things a student pilot is asked to do,
and is a very large part of learning to fly, so if that's your desire,
you can begin right here:
In addition, if you'd like to read all the FARs (good bedtime reading
I assure you if you should ever suffer from insomnia!), the main page
is here: http://www.faa.gov/avr/arm/index.cfm
Like it or not (and most of us don't), learning these regs, or at
least learning what they are, what they cover, and where and how to
look things up is a fact of life for pilots of all kinds from student
to seasoned pro, so is a good place to begin. You'll get all too
familiar with them if you continue!
If you want to explore what is involved in taking flying lessons and
don't quite know where to start, here are a few places to start
http://www.aopa.org This is the website of the Aircraft Owners and
Pilots Association and one of the best available resources for
information about flying and learning to fly. Look over on the
left-hand side, in the Public Menu, and click on "Learn to Fly."
http://www.landings.com or more specifically
Landings.com is one of the most comprehensive aviation-related sites
out there, with numerous resources for those wanting to learn about
all aspects of flying.
http://www.learntofly.com is a website maintained by Cessna, which
oversees numerous Cessna Pilot Centers around the country, and has
some very good information on learning to fly, whether or not you
choose to use one of their centers.
http://www.capnhq.gov The Civil Air Patrol has a cadet program for
persons ages 13-18 in which you can learn to fly gliders and/or
powered aircraft, and even earn your license. You can take
Orientation flights with experienced CAP pilots first to learn more.
If you can find an active unit near you, this could be a very good
start for a young person.
Remember, there is NO AGE LIMIT on learning to fly. If you're too
young now, learn anyway. You don't even need to fly with an
instructor until you're ready to start working toward your own legal
first solo and/or license. If you know a licensed pilot who is
willing to take you up, start there (making sure you have your parents
permission, of course). Many a pilot has. In fact, the Experimental
Aviation Association (EAA) has what they call a "Young Eagles"
program, in which volunteer pilots take young people up for their
first flight. You can learn more about that here:
But you don't have to stick with an organized program. For example,
if you know someone who is a licensed pilot, and (s)he and your
parents are willing, you can start there as well. I know many pilots
who have taken their children or grandchildren or other children up
from as young as a few weeks old, and they'll literally grow up in
airplanes, eventually earning their own certificates when they're old
enough. But they'll already know how to fly.
Other places you might check for information include your local Yellow
pages under "Aircraft Flight Training Schools," where you'll find a
list of certificated instructors. Some newspaper classified sections
under "Aircraft" also have ads from instructors. Go to your local
airport and look for the FBOs, the Fixed Base Operators or small
businesses that are usually on the other side of the airport from the
big commercial terminal. This is where you'll find flight instructors
and students. Hang out and ask questions.
Learning to fly is the beginning of a lifelong adventure of which you
will never tire if it once takes hold of you. If you're too young to
solo or earn a certificate right now, don't wait, there's no need.
Start where you are and when you've reached the legal age you'll be
all the better for the wait and the knowledge you've gained!
Please do ask if there is anything that's not clear. My answer is
based on my own knowledge and experience as a certificated Commercial
Pilot with Airplane Single-Engine Land and Instrument ratings. In
addition, I am a SAR/DR Mission Pilot with the Civil Air Patrol, where
I fly with a local squadron.
The links provided were taken from my own extensive list of
aviation-related bookmarks. However, if you'd like to search further
on your own, I'd suggest using "flight training" "flight instruction"
"learning to fly" as main search terms.
Best of luck to you. See you in the sky!