Zuckerberg Obtains Student Pilot Certificate


Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg is apparently on the long list of high achievers who’s decided the next challenge will be getting a pilot certificate. According to Insider, the social media magnate has successfully obtained his student pilot certificate. We couldn’t verify the Facebook founder is on the FAA registry because it’s closed for maintenance all weekend. It’s not clear if he’s actively training or what his goal is for the effort. There is plenty of speculation, however, that it might be playing catch up with his newly designated archrival Elon Musk.

Earlier this month Zuckerberg launched Threads, a Twitter-like platform aiming to capitalize on Musk’s controversial decisions as the new boss at Twitter. But all other things being equal in terms of billionaire status there is one thing that Musk is that Zuckerberg isn’t and that’s a pilot. Musk is actually a pretty accomplished aviator and is typed in an L-39 and Citation CJ2 and also owned a Piper Meridian. But he’s apparently also able to self-certify and hasn’t flown for 15 years. “I have to work when I fly and have too many thoughts in my head to pay the necessary attention to the plane—I can be absentminded at times, which is a really bad habit for a pilot,” Insider quoted Musk as saying in a 2008 Washington Post interview.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. Flying is great fun but can kill you. If you are going to buy a complex airplane and fly it in murky weather hire yourself a competent professional pilot for the other front seat. They are cheap to pay for and will keep you from killing your family with your misplaced sense of invincibility. Now go out there and have fun.

  2. When I got into the 182 RG, it took all of my concentration and more to get it right.

    And I’m not running a company. I can only imagine what kind of distractions he’s going to be dealing with.

    I have bluetooth capability into my headphones. I have never used it. I pay attention to what I’m doing. No music, no text, no nothing but flying.

    Me thinks that he won’t be following my lead.

  3. The board of directors for these high dollar people will never be allowed to fly their planes solo. Sparky

  4. Musk’s attitude is refreshing. I suspect a lot of people fall into the “absent-minded” category, but either don’t know it or believe they can behave differently when in the airplane. A person has to know their limitations…

  5. Not a fan of either of these guys but anything, or anyone influential, that might help to raise the profile of GA and get new folks interested in flying is ok with me.

  6. I’ve cancelled Facebook and Instagram. I can’t get this flee out of my life. I’m surprised he’s has time for this with election meddling an all….

  7. I obviously don’t have the companies these guys do, but find flying requires complete focus for my little brain and takes me away from the work pressures I do have.

  8. As a person I find him despicable.

    As far as if he wants to fly or not it’s no skin off my banana.

    I hope he gets his certificate and enjoys it safely for a long time to come.

  9. I used to occasionally fly a corporate airplane for the pilot owner when he was busy. He took flying very seriously and operated the airplane in a professional manner.

    The part that most impressed me was the fact that he would take me on one day out and back business trips. He would fly out but I would fly back as he felt after a full day of high powered business meetings he did not feel he could maintain an acceptable piloting standard. If I wasn’t available he would overnight and fly back the next day.

    Having a Professional attitude to flying is a choice and ultimately has nothing to do with what license you have, or how much money you have. Zuckerberg could be a superior pilot or a danger to himself and others, only he can choose what kind of pilot he will be.

  10. My former aircraft sales partner Frank in Palo Alto sold Elon the Piper Meridian, but he “outgrew it” within a year or two and bought a larger jet with hired crew to ride back and forth between the Bay Area and southern Calif. He was conscientious at the time but concluded growing family and increasingly complex businesses were too distracting to stay current..

  11. “According to Insider, the social media magnate has successfully obtained his student pilot certificate.”

    Unless I’m missing something here, all one has to do to Obtain a student pilot license is to meet the age requirements and fill out an application form. I guess the Insider headline was written by Zuckerberg’s publicist to make obtaining the license sound like a major achievement.

  12. All a student pilot certificate tells me he passed his medical exam. Now let’s see if he follows through and gets his private pilot certificate.

  13. Just like many other *Superstars*, Zuckerberg could turn out to be a liability to GA, not an asset. Imagine he does himself in with a plane for rich, climate-change ignoring people… like a Cessna 152. Then again, I doubt he will set foot into any privately owned aircraft without an entourage of Paparazzi and a load if Bodyguards around. Clear Prop! Clunk Clunk Clunk Clunk…. Cameras flying, Screams, lots of blood…

    On second thought, Arnie Schwarzenegger managed to be Governour of “Kalifornia” and drove a Unimog while off duty. Political hypocrisy knows no limit in the DSA and Zuckerberg flying GA planes appears to be a rather elevated version of Hold My Beer…