Once a student pilot's training is far enough along, he or she must pass a final comprehensive knowledge test that assesses how well that individual grasps all aspects of flight, from completing the preflight checklist to performing flying maneuvers to properly handling landing protocols. If all goes well, the sky's the limit -- except for a few additional considerations.
Private pilots, for example, are not allowed to fly for economic compensation or financial gain. They can, however, require passengers to share in the direct cost of operating the airplane, which includes paying for expenses such as fuel, oil, rental charges, airport parking and landing fees. That being said, they can fly for qualifying charitable and community events. The number of occupants a private pilot can carry is unlimited based on the size of the plane, their range is unlimited, and they can fly at night.
Private pilots (along with most other types of pilots) can also seek additional ratings and endorsements in order to have more freedom while flying. One common example is for pilots to become certified to fly under instrument flight rules (IFR, as opposed to the visual flight rules, or VFR). When visibility is reduced -- which is common considering cloud cover, fog and storm fronts -- pilots must rely on their instruments to guide them. An IFR rating greatly increases a pilot's versatility in the air, and it's just one of many additional certificates an ambitious private pilot can aim for.
For more info about life in the air, look over the links on the next page.