My instructor has ruined my training. 2.5 months ago when I started private pilot training (FAR61) I had zero knowledge about aviation. After 1.5 months he signed me off for solo and I finished all the requirements and we sat together to register through IACRA for my checkride, and guess what? He had forgotten to tell me I needed a student pilot certificate before I go soloing.

Besides the risk he made on my life ( imagine I crashed during solo and insurance definitely would deny any claims since I was not legally allowed to fly! ) and that I will be grounded for weeks until I get student pilot certificate, I don’t know what will happen to those solo hours ?

  • Do I have to re-do the whole solo requirements or they will still count towards my hours?

  • Do I need to file a complaint through AOPA or FAA or contact my AOPA representative?

  • What are the rules and who is responsible for that?

  • 11
    $\begingroup$ Generally, the PIC is responsible for making sure all regulations are met, and is the final authority on the operation of the aircraft. (I don't know if that's the case in your specific situation, which is why I'm not posting this as an answer.) Sure, your instructor shouldn't have made such an omission, but I very strongly suspect that even a student PIC is expected to be familiar with the relevant regulations by the time of their first solo flight. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Oct 19, 2017 at 14:29
  • 8
    $\begingroup$ In order to pass the Knowledge Test you should have studied Part 61. Especially §61.3 Requirement for certificates, ratings, and authorizations. Required pilot certificate for operating a civil aircraft of the United States. No person may serve as a required pilot flight crewmember of a civil aircraft of the United States, unless that person: (1) Has in the person's physical possession or readily accessible in the aircraft when exercising the privileges of that pilot certificate or authorization— (i) A pilot certificate issued under this part and in accordance with §61.19; $\endgroup$
    – JScarry
    Oct 19, 2017 at 14:42
  • 13
    $\begingroup$ FYI, You should immediately file a NASA form. $\endgroup$
    – JScarry
    Oct 19, 2017 at 14:47
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Your instructor didn't "ruin" your training, your hours still count (maybe not the solo ones). You must have gained enough knowledge so that he felt you were safe to fly. BTW, if you crashed, it wouldn't have only been your problem, it would have been his too, since the insurance company would likely go after him, not you. I'd find a new instructor, but you aren't totally lost (or grounded, you can still fly with an instructor!). $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Oct 19, 2017 at 15:04
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ Just a little bit of friendly advice: I definitely feel that you should discuss this with your instructor, if nothing else then to let him know you're finding another and why, but do try to be a little less absolutist when you do than you come across in this question. "My instructor has ruined my training." As pointed out above, no, he most likely hasn't. You may feel like he has, and you're entitled to those feelings, but I encourage you to phrase it when talking to him in terms of your thoughts and feelings ("I fear/feel/worry/... that you have..."), rather than facts ("you have..."). $\endgroup$
    – user
    Oct 19, 2017 at 16:57

2 Answers 2


Do I have to re-do the whole solo requirements or they will still count towards my hours?

You will probably not have to re-do the hours. An FAA examiner will look at your log, test you and decide whether to give you a license. It is unlikely that they would notice that your solo time was done before the student license was issued and then disallow the hours. If they did notice and disallowed the hours, you could appeal that decision.

As long as a CFI certified you for solo flight, the hours you did should count.

Do I need to file a complaint through AOPA or FAA or contact my AOPA representative?


What are the rules and who is responsible for that?

It's your job as a pilot to know the regulations and follow them, including requirements such as obtaining student licenses and medicals. The CFI is not your nanny. It is YOUR responsibility to know the rules and follow them.

  • 6
    $\begingroup$ I agree that the student does carry responsibility, but so does the instructor, who should be in hot water over this. The CFI is not allowed to be sending students solo without verifying that all the boxes have been ticked. If that happened here in Australia CASA would take their CFI rating off them in an instant, he’d better hope the FAA is more lenient. $\endgroup$
    – Ben
    Oct 20, 2017 at 6:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Ben indeed. As should the aircraft owner who has responsibility to not allow a person without the correct papers to take control of an aircraft without an instructor on board. $\endgroup$
    – jwenting
    Aug 21, 2018 at 9:57
  • $\begingroup$ @jwenting I'd be careful blaming the owner. Many times, they lease their airplane to a school or an instructor and that gets delegated as a term of the lease. In this situation, the owners often (usually?) don't even know who is flying their airplane, much less check them out on their own. $\endgroup$
    – Lnafziger
    Nov 7, 2018 at 3:37
  • $\begingroup$ @Lnafziger in that case the responsibility goes from the owner to the person or company holding the lease, obviously. $\endgroup$
    – jwenting
    Nov 8, 2018 at 20:08
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @jwenting My point exactly.... $\endgroup$
    – Lnafziger
    Nov 8, 2018 at 23:05

The CFI MUST endorse your Student License for the particular model of aircraft PRIOR to your solo flying. If you do not have the License, he can't endorse it, therefore you are not legal.

In some cases, through the years, CFIs have done the endorsement after you have completed your first solo. The FAA frowns on this. The FAA would be incensed at the CFI in your case, and upset with you.

As far as allowing the hours logged, ask the FAA.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ The Student License has changed (in the US) to where it is a permanent license and the license itself is not endorsed. Instead the logbook is now endorsed for a student to solo. In this case it sounds like the logbook was endorsed but the student never received the license. $\endgroup$
    – DLH
    Aug 20, 2018 at 20:00

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