For Pilots, the FAA issues certificates (not licenses) divided by the privileges granted, the
Category and the Class; Ratings are also attached to certificates.
For most pilots the first certificate after the student pilot certificate will be PP-ASEL
(private pilot, airplane single engine land). The privileges for this one are private, indicating that
the pilot cannot fly for compensation. The category is airplane rather than, for example, rotocraft
or lighter-than-air. The class is single engine land rather than, for example, multi-engine sea.
After the private, the usual progression sees the pilot add an instrument rating, which hones the
pilot's skills and allows the pilot to fly in some types of inclement weather, depending on the
capabilities of the airplane they fly.
In some parts of the of the country, students are testing for the sport pilot certificate as their first
certificate, but with the complexity of the New York metro airspace and the restrictions on the
sport certificate, the private is a much more suitable as a first certificate. Also note that the sport
pilot and recreational pilot certificate are only good within the United States. If you want to do an
outback flying tour, for example, you will need at least a private pilot certificate.
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Did you know?...
The federal government didn't get into
the pilot certificate game until 1917.
Until then, pilot certificates in the US
were issued by a private group called
the Aero Club of America, a child of the
AAA, and occasionally by the state
Aero Club certificates #1-5 were issued
in 1911 to a group of already qualified
pilots in alphabetical order by name.
This is why the Wright Brothers had certificates #4 and #5, not #1 and #2.Shades of Mr. Burns: "Social security number? Naught, naught, naught, naught, naught, naught, naught, naught, Two. Damn Roosevelt"