Assuming one does not have a driver's license, is it possible for one to obtain a pilot's license to fly a helicopter? Cost is not the question here. I want to know if one can never obtain a driver's license (for ground, motor vehicles) and still be able to obtain a pilot's license to fly helicopters, planes, etc.

This is applicable for the U.S. only.

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    $\begingroup$ This was the case for e.g. Neil Armstrong. $\endgroup$
    – E.P.
    Jan 20, 2015 at 14:12
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    $\begingroup$ Driver's license is for driving a land based vehicle. It is not require for flying an aircraft. $\endgroup$
    – Steve Kuo
    Jan 21, 2015 at 7:06
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    $\begingroup$ I help a UK PPL for more than four years before I got a drivers license. $\endgroup$ Jan 21, 2015 at 18:50
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    $\begingroup$ In the United States they only ask you for one thing to start flying helicopters: money. A drivers license is never mentioned. If you are in the marines, they don't ask for the money. $\endgroup$ Jan 21, 2015 at 20:16
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    $\begingroup$ @TylerDurden And identification. $\endgroup$ Jan 22, 2015 at 1:33

2 Answers 2


Here's a a video where a CFI discusses this very question. There's no rule that says you need a driver's license to obtain a certificate to fly in the US. The real question is why you can't obtain a driver's license. If you have a medical problem that disqualifies you from driving, that will likely pose a far larger issue getting a medical to fly. Similarly, any drug or alcohol problem or conviction must be reported to the FAA. If your driver's license was suspended or revoked due to drug or alcohol, that must be reported as well. These issues are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, as the FAA wants to be satisfied that you will not try to fly while impaired. Beyond those types of problems, if you simply don't own a car and never wanted to learn to drive, nothing is stopping you from getting a license to fly.

Note that you will need some sort of government-issued photo ID. A passport or state-issued non-driver ID should be fine. You might also run into the practical problem that it may be difficult to get to/from airports in many regions without driving, so you'd have to find alternate transportation.

Finally, there is one sort of connection between driver's licenses and flying in the US. Pilots with a valid driver's license can fly Light Sport Aircraft without obtaining the otherwise-required third class medical certificate. A few rotorcraft (like this one) qualify as LSA. There are, however, significant restrictions on these operations, such as the requirement that they can't fly at night or carry more than one passenger. This rule does not override the medical requirements to fly, but requires the pilot to certify him/herself able to fly safely instead of receiving that certification from a Aviation Medical Examiner. In other words, if there's a reason you wouldn't be able to obtain a third class medical, then you are not allowed to fly a LSA using only a driver's license.

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    $\begingroup$ Hello. The reason and details cannot be publicly disclosed, but I am an ex A.W.O.L. soldier from the U.S. Marines. A court marshal ordered that I can't ever obtain a driver's license. $\endgroup$ Jan 20, 2015 at 7:15
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    $\begingroup$ Well that's a new one. It would probably be best to consult with an aviation attorney if you're serious about pursuing this. A military lawyer might eventually be required if you ended up needing to seek modification of the court order. Even if you were able to receive a PPL, your background could well preclude you for flying for any commercial purposes and could pose problems if you went all the way to ATP in the future. It would be best to get legal advice and fully understand the situation before jumping into training. $\endgroup$ Jan 20, 2015 at 8:38
  • $\begingroup$ @HairInAComa I'm a bit late to the party, but no USMC MARINE would stoop low enough to call themselves a "soldier". I'm called foul. $\endgroup$
    – Rick
    Aug 5, 2022 at 15:41

In order to obtain a PPL in a glider, one only needs to be 16, which is younger than the age to get a driver's license in many states. For airplane and heli, it's 17, and there's no evidence that every 17-year-old has such a license. So there doesn't seem to be any correlation between an actual drivers license and a pilots license, so long as the reasons for not having one aren't in violation of any other laws, regs, or decrees to which you're subject. You must still provide appropriate identification.

The two applicable FARs regarding disqualified for non-FAA-related legal or regulatory actions are 61.15/.16, which refer to alcohol and drugs, and 61.18, which refers to security disqualification. 15 and 16 don't apply, as you wrote.

61.18, however, has to do with security threats. If the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has notified the FAA in writing that you pose a security threat, then you would also be disqualified.

If none of these apply, then you (or perhaps better, an aviation lawyer) can write the FAA's chief counsel and ask for an opinion. The relevant contacts are here

  • $\begingroup$ In many states the minimum age for a driver's license is 16, so it would be the same in many instances, not younger $\endgroup$
    – SSumner
    Jan 20, 2015 at 23:04

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