What can you do with your PPL: 10 Awesome Things to Try

What can you do with your PPL: 10 Awesome Things to Try

By Lisa Thornton, CFII & Airline First Officer

The first license any pilot earns is their Private Pilot Certificate (PPL). Like any of the other ratings, the Private Pilot must go through the usual FAA check ride profile: written test, oral exam, and practical portion. Many pilots use the PPL as a building block for future certificates, leading up to flying into challenging weather and for compensation. However, obtaining your Private Pilot’s Certificate is no small feat and should be celebrated!

In fact, if you don’t intend to make flying a career, but would rather utilize your PPL as a passionate pastime, then understanding what you can do with a Private Pilot’s License is vital.

Keep scrolling for 10 AWESOME things you can do with a PPL:

1. Own or Rent a Plane

Perhaps the most obvious thing you can do with a Private Pilot’s License is buy your own airplane. But did you know co-owning a plane is quite common? If outright purchasing a plane is out of reach, you can purchase a share in an airplane with several others and split whatever upkeep fees it comes with. If owning is too much of a commitment, there’s good news! Small airports and flight schools offer aircraft rentals on an hourly basis. After a check out flight with an instructor and proof of insurance, they’ll hand you the keys. 

2. Visit New Places

“A mile of highway will take you just one mile, but a mile of runway can take you anywhere.” From low level flights skimming across glittery ponds, to navigating the Golden Gate Bridge VFR flyway, every state and every airport has something beautiful to see. Hang a sectional and place pins in every airport you’ve landed at. Collect a pen from every airport FBO you stop at. Whatever you do, have fun with it and watch as the world becomes your oyster.

3. Fly in the Dark

One of the privileges that comes with obtaining your PPL, is the ability to fly at night. Watch a shooting star light up the dark and find yourself floating among the constellations. See the way a city sparkles once the sun goes down and view Christmas lights from the best angle and without the traffic. Just don’t forget there are currency requirements if you want to fly with passengers.

4. Take Friends and Family Flying

Speaking of passengers, you can now share your passion with your friends and family by taking them on a flight. Do you have someone who inspired you to become a pilot? Ask them to ride next to you and show off those hard-earned skills. There’s no better feeling than buttering in a landing while grandpa sits next to you grinning from ear to ear. Pro tip: let your guest wear the noise canceling headphones for the best experience.  

5. Compete in a Race

Air racing is a motor sport that involves navigating a set course while adhering to certain rules and regulations for time. There are various events all over the U.S. and different requirements for each. Visit the AOPA website for a list of races.

6. Get Creative

Strap a Gopro to the strut or fly a friend around with a camera and document your adventures. Watch the playback of your flight to improve your technique, create online content, or capture stills to turn into artwork for your home. Let each flight inspire you.

7. Have a Date Night in the Sky

Is “I’m a pilot.” the best pick up line? That remains to be seen, but why not put your money where your mouth is. The world seems more romantic thousands of feet above, pink sun setting over the mountains, and a thermos of hot apple cider in hand. Why not share your passion with an action packed, unique date idea that takes a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many and makes it a reality.  

8. Attend an Aviation Fly-In

Every year, large groups of aviation enthusiasts gather to celebrate aviation history, view unique builds, meet fellow pilots, and watch epic air shows. These events can be attended on a local level, such as a nearby FBO’s pancake fly-in breakfast, or on a big time level, such as Oshkosh and Sun N Fun. Not only can you attend these events, but you can now fly in. Be sure to bring a friend. Fly safely and check NOTAMS before you go.  

9. Volunteer Your Experience

While you can’t get paid for flying with your PPL, you can fly for nonprofit organizations, charity, and volunteer events. One of the most rewarding feelings is being able to use your talents to help better the lives of those less fortunate. A few examples of organizations you can get involved with are: EAA, Fly2Help, Freedom Aviation Network, Pilots N Paws, and Flight for Life.

10. Become Well Rounded

Ok admittedly this one requires more training, but there are so many ways to fly with a PPL I would be remiss not to mention the following: tailwheel and high-performance endorsement, float plane and multi-engine rating. 


Does everything on the list above sound enticing? Now picture doing it all with two engines, landing on water, participating in a STOL contest, climbing higher, getting there faster, and landing on water. Check with your local CFI for more information on how to obtain extra endorsements and ratings. 

Ultimately, you’ve worked hard to become a Private Pilot. Now get out there and live it up!

By Lisa Thornton, CFII & Airline First Officer

Check out Lisa's website: www.goingmissed.co

Northstar Aviation References brings you the Pre-Tabbed ASA FAR/AIMDIY tabs for your FAR/AIM and other pilot resources so that you can more easily study the regulations that form the foundation of your flying career or hobby. Have any questions? Check out our FAQs page or contact us. Check out other blog posts here