As the title says, what endorsements and licenses do I need to obtain before I can legally fly a decommissioned single seater fighter jet or trainer jet (like a L-39 Albatros or even a F22 when the time comes)

Simply assume I could afford everything the jet needs and the jet itself, I am aware that a lot of jets (mostly newer) will never see civilian pilots.

I am mostly asking for the Netherlands / EU, but I am interested in American laws as well, if there are big differences.

  • $\begingroup$ Without knowing in which country you want to obtain permission to fly such an aircraft it is not possible to answer. $\endgroup$ Commented May 27, 2019 at 10:00
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for pointing that out @JuanJimenez I edited the question $\endgroup$ Commented May 27, 2019 at 10:23
  • $\begingroup$ These days, the US is very sensitive about letting warplanes -- and especially advanced ones -- get into the hands of anybody who isn't the military of a close ally. I'd be very surprised if any F-22s fly after the USAF is done with them. $\endgroup$ Commented May 27, 2019 at 10:52
  • $\begingroup$ I'd be suprised too if that were to ever happen so what thats concerned its a theoretical question, but a "old" military / military trainer sure is possible to get it seems $\endgroup$ Commented May 27, 2019 at 11:25
  • $\begingroup$ You can buy and fly something as advanced as a MIG-29 or a Harrier these days. But flying it will cost you a lot more money than buying it. If you can legally buy it, the FAA will let you fly it as long as you can find a qualified instructor to sign you off. For some types of ex-military jets, finding that instructor is the biggest catch. $\endgroup$ Commented May 27, 2019 at 11:41

5 Answers 5


In the US, the FAA's requirements for obtaining authorization to fly former ,military aircraft is included in 8900.1 Volume 5, Chapter 9, Section 2.

It is quite lengthy and covers more than just former military aircraft. As others have pointed out, most of these aircraft do not have a Type Certificate. They normally have a Special Airworthiness Certificate in the category Experimental Aircraft Exhibition. Requirements to fly the aircraft are spelled out in the aircraft's operating limitations which are issued with the Special Airworthiness Certificate.

From 8900.1:

A. Background. The FAA requires pilot authorizations to operate some aircraft in the experimental category, including some former military, all turbojet‑powered (for this section, all turbojet‑powered includes all turbofan‑powered), all rocket‑powered, and all large (over 12,500 pounds maximum gross takeoff weight (MGTOW)) aircraft, and any other aircraft requiring specific pilot skills. Examples of such models are the Northrop F‑5, Bell P‑63, MiG‑15, Ju‑52, Mi‑24, and the BD‑5J. The FAA also requires authorizations to act as PIC of large or turbojet‑powered aircraft undergoing type certification.

1) The requirement for an FAA authorization to act as PIC of certain experimental aircraft is contained in the FAA‑issued aircraft operating limitations. Pilots are required to comply with the FAA‑issued operating limitations by 14 CFR part 91, § 91.9(a).

2) Because these aircraft are not type certificated (TC), a type rating is not available. In the absence of type ratings for these aircraft, it is the FAA’s objective to ensure, for the pilots flying these aircraft, a level of safety and proficiency similar to what is available for an aircraft with a type rating.

The specific pilot requirements are also spelled out in the document:

A. Former Military Turbojet/Turboshaft‑Powered Aircraft. To be eligible for an authorization to act as PIC of a former military turbojet/turboshaft‑powered aircraft, an applicant must:

1) Possess at least a U.S. private pilot certificate with an appropriate category and class rating for the configuration of the aircraft;

2) Hold an instrument rating;

3) Possess at least a valid U.S. third‑class medical certificate or equivalent (U.S. Military Flight Medical or U.S. driver’s license in accordance with the FAA BasicMed process (pilots using BasicMed may not exceed 250 knots indicated airspeed (KIAS)));

4) Have logged a minimum of 500 hours of pilot flight time in the aircraft category and have completed the U.S. armed services qualification checkout described in this section; or have logged a minimum of 1,000 hours pilot flight time, including 500 hours as PIC in the aircraft category, and have completed the training requirements of this section; and

5) If the aircraft is capable of supersonic flight, have a minimum of 250 hours of pilot flight time as PIC of a fixed‑wing turbojet‑powered aircraft, in a Group V, VI, or VII aircraft (see Figure 5‑173), or present proof of completion of a U.S. military qualification in a supersonic turbojet‑powered aircraft.

B. Former Military Propeller‑Driven Airplane. To be eligible to serve as PIC of a former military propeller‑driven airplane that has a MGTOW exceeding 12,500 pounds, or which has a horsepower rating of more than 800 horsepower and a VNE that exceeds 250 knots, an applicant must:

1) Possess at least a U.S. private pilot certificate with an appropriate category and class rating;

2) Possess at least a valid U.S. third‑class medical certificate or equivalent (U.S. Military Flight Medical or U.S. driver’s license in accordance with the FAA BasicMed process (pilots using BasicMed may not operate an aircraft with a MGTOW above 6,000 pounds));

3) Have logged a minimum of 500 hours of pilot flight time; and

4) Have completed the training requirements of this section.

That last item can be a challenge as it requires finding someone with the proper authorization to provide the training.

More information is available at the FAA Vintage & Experimental Aircraft Program web page.


Quite simply, you’d need a private pilot license and a type rating.

Other posted answers are overly complicated and many rules mentioned relate to the aircraft (where and how the aircraft can be flown) and not the requirements for the pilot

Further, there is no requirement to be instrument rated. Insurance of the aircraft is between you and a private company, not with the FAA.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Actually you are required to be instrument rated on the operation of a typed airplane capable of operations in Class A airspace. You would also need a high altitude endorsement for a pressurized aircraft as well. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 30, 2020 at 1:21

In the United States, under the FAA’s pilot certification rules, per Part 61, you would need a minimum of:

  • A Private Pilot Certificate with:

    • Airplane Single Engine Land or Airplane Multi Engine Land, depending on the aircraft you intended to fly.

    • A type rating on that airplane, if the airplane has a gross weight exceeding 12,500lbs or is turbojet powered, if the aircraft is not certificated in the experimental category.

    • For aircraft belonging to the experimental-exhibition category for a turbine powered surplus military aircraft, a pilot must be issued a Letter of Operation Authority (LOA) from a Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) and undergone training on either the specific airframe in question or a similar airframe from another LOA holder authorized by the FSDO to conduct said transition training. See FAA AC 61-98 for further details.

  • An instrument airplane rating (if the aircraft is capable of flight in Class A airspace)

  • A high altitude logbook endorsement (if aircraft is pressurized and/or capable of flight at altitudes greater than FL260.)

  • A complex and high performance endorsement, for propeller driven fighter aircraft, should they meet the requirements of §61.31

  • A tailwheel endorsement, if the airplane you wish to fly has conventional landing gear per §61.31

  • $\begingroup$ So you don't need a high-altitude endorsement to fly an unpressurised aircraft capable of exceeding FL260? :-P $\endgroup$
    – Vikki
    Commented Jan 30, 2020 at 21:40

In the US the minimum requirements for a warbird type rating are a private pilot’s license, current medical and 500 hours total time in a fixed wing aircraft. The training requirements include ground and flight training and vary depending on the aircraft. You also need to do the usual Bi-Annual Flight Review (BFR), and your insurance company will also likely impose requirements for coverage, such as currency, etc. I don't know the requirements in the EU, but they probably vary from country to country.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Do you have any sources for this? Someone in the comments and my own research haven't said anything about 500h and bfr's. $\endgroup$ Commented May 27, 2019 at 11:52
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You can check the various training outfits, such as this one: easternblocaircraft.com/jet.html. Everyone has to do BFR's, that's a requirement for all US-licensed pilots. $\endgroup$ Commented May 27, 2019 at 12:01
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Aside from licensing requirements, you would only (probably) get an exhibition certificate for the aircraft, which means you aren't taking it out on weekends to impress the ladies, you can only fly it to/from a specific list of shows or for training purposes. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Commented May 28, 2019 at 2:31
  • $\begingroup$ @RonBeyer I'm not so sure. You can almost certainly get it registered as an experimental and fly it to your heart's content, as long as it fits in the traffic pattern (think noise restrictions for example). $\endgroup$
    – jwenting
    Commented May 28, 2019 at 4:08
  • $\begingroup$ @jwenting Ron is correct. Warbirds almost always get experimental exhibition-only airworthiness certificates with severely restricted operating limitations stating what they can be used for. The exceptions are, for example, a handful of P-51's that have standard airworthiness certificates. I'd almost kill to get one of those, if I had the money. :) $\endgroup$ Commented May 28, 2019 at 8:09

In the United States:

Legally: A private pilots license, and in the case of the F-22 a multi engine rating (since it has two engines) as well as a type rating per §61.31 since they are turbo jet aircraft. However interestingly neither of those aircraft are on the FAA's type rating list which may be an issue. There is no legal minimum amount of hours beyond those required to get the prior listed ratings.

Practically: If you want to actually fly it and get it insured... An instrument rating, a whole big chunk of hours at least some in high performance aircraft, a fair bit of multi engine time for the F-22 and prior time in type never looks bad.

Actually owning one is addressed here.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .