Age Restrictions on Solo Flight

Youngest flying age:

Solo flight means you are in the aircraft all by yourself. There is no instructor in the aircraft. He or she is waiting patiently, or nervously, as the case may be, at the flying school or in the Tower, for your safe return. Keep those radio calls correct! He/she might be listening in!

As with driving, flying as the sole occupant of your training aircraft has an age restriction attached. The irony is, though, that you may pilot an aeroplane in South Africa, all by yourself, a full two years before you may drive a car all by yourself! Nope, I don't quite get it either, but I am certainly not going to point this out to the authorities!

The magic age at which you are allowed to pilot an aircraft by yourself, to be in control of a whole lot of horsepower, to be responsible for hundreds of thousands to millions of Rands worth of investment in hard metal, piping and electrics, is the tender and responsible? age of 16. Scrap that, it was 16 until recently. It has been reduced to 15 by the South African Civil Aviation Authority. Scrap that, its back to 16 as of 30 July 2013, so even if you have your SPL, are 15 and have gone solo, you may no longer fly solo until you turn 16.  Sorry. :(

Sixteen (16), is the minimum age at which you are allowed to hold a Student Pilot License, (SPL). You need an SPL before you are allowed to fly as the sole occupant of the aircraft.

Seventeen (17), is the minimum age at which you are allowed to hold a Private Pilot License (PPL). You need a PPL before you are allowed to carry any passengers.

You may begin flying before your 16th birthday, but it is a bit pointless because you may be ready to fly all by yourself, without your instructor,  long before you turn 16, which means that you will have to keep flying dual, (flying dual means flying with your instructor), until you come of age, and are allowed to apply for your SPL. This could be very frustrating.

You may also not write any exams if you do not have an SPL, so you can't even get that "out of the way".

Have some patience. Wait. I know it's hard, but the time will come soon enough.

Personally, I believe 16 to be a good age to start flight training; 16 going on 17.

Oldest flying age:

So what is the oldest you may begin to fly? As long as you pass your Aviation Medical, you are considered fit to fly, and may do so. There have been men over seventy learning to fly for the first time! Age is only a number, after all.


Go from Solo Flying to PPL Requirements

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