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What You Can Do With a Private Pilot License

The number one reaction from friends and family, upon hearing about my new private pilot license, was some variation of this:

Congrats! So…what can you do with it?Friends and Family
So, I thought I’d share what I can and can’t do, and what a private pilot license means and doesn’t mean.


  • Fly for fun, without an instructor on board!
  • Carry passengers, friends, and family
  • Fly day or night
  • Fly (almost) wherever the heck I want, even all the way across the country, or to other countries!
  • Fly to any airport, even big ones (if I want to pay the high landing fees!)
  • Fly any airplane I am certified and qualified for, which is a lot of them!


  • Take a paying job as a pilot, like flying for the airlines
  • Fly in clouds or bad weather
  • Fly over certain prohibited areas (White House, Camp David, etc)
  • Fly airplane categories I’m not qualified for (e.g. multi-engine, airplanes with engines over 200HP, airplanes bigger than 12,500 lbs, seaplanes, etc.)

What does it all mean?

FREEDOM! I can hop in a plane right now and take my beautiful wife to Nantucket for lunch. I think that’s pretty cool (and she does too).
The only major hurdle now is that I don’t own a plane (darn!), so I have to rent, and that means I have to schedule a rental plane that lots of other people want to fly. Plus, flight schools don’t take kindly to you taking their rental plane off for a week-long trip where it sits on the ramp at your destination, when they could instead be making money renting it out at home.
So, I have to plan ahead a bit, and my trips can’t be epic vacations, but STILL, I GET TO FLY A PLANE TO COOL PLACES.

Up Next: Whats Next For Me