“The total cost of earning your Private Pilot Certification will be $9,000 to $11,000. Let’s take a detailed look at the breakdown of the costs and how you can earn yours for as little as possible.”
If you’re like most people who have always dreamed of learning to fly, you’ve probably heard that the process is very expensive. The cost of getting a pilot’s license is one of the things that keeps a lot of prospective pilots from pursuing their dream.
The Private Pilot Certificate (also called a private pilot’s license by many) is widely considered to be the point where one becomes a “real” pilot since they are able to fly at night, with passengers, and with more advanced aircraft than beginner pilots.
In this article we’re going to break down all the costs that comes with earning your private pilot certificate. Keep in mind that these are general estimates from around the country and the cost can vary widely based on where you are located, your instructor, airport, and more.
In order to get your private pilot license the FAA mandates at least 40 hours of flight time, but very few students finish the program that quickly. A more realistic estimate is 55 hours. Other expenses to be considered include the time you are getting instruction on the ground, the airplane rental fees, accessories you’ll need, and the tests themselves.
Instructor’s Hourly Fees
As you learn to fly, you’re going to need a good instructor to teach you. They are typically paid by the hour and charge for the hours while flying as well as instruction given on the ground. A good estimate for this category is $45-$60 per hour for a total of 55 hours.
Airplane Rental Fees
You’ll also need to rent an airplane for both your solo flights and dual flights (with your instructor). The costs of plane rental vary based on the type of aircraft, the company you’re renting it from, and whether they rent it wet (with fuel) or dry (without fuel). A good estimate for plane rental is in the range of $120-$150 per hour.
Some places actually bundle the price of the plane with the instruction in order to simplify costs, so keep an eye out for what is and isn’t included so you can make an educated decision when choosing a flight school.
Supplies & Equipment
Some of the additional supplies and equipment you’ll need include:
- Aviation headset ($100-$400+)
- Manuals and books for test prep ($200)
- Formal ground school course ($250)
In order to complete the program and earn your private pilot’s certificate, you’ll also have to pass the FAA written exam ($150) and do a test flight ($400).
How Long it Takes
As mentioned above, the total flight time required to earn this designation is 40+ hours of flight time (more like 55 for most people) plus all the ground courses, testing, and other administrative things that have to be completed before you can take the final tests. There are different ways you can schedule this. When choosing a flight school and instructor you should take the time to ask about what the process will look like and how it will fit with your schedule.
The Grand Total
The total cost for earning your private pilot certificate will likely end up in the range of $9,000 to $11,000 depending on many of the variables listed above. Although this sounds like a lot of money, this is something that for many people is a life long dream come true. It’s a skill that takes practice and dedication while being rewarding for years to come.
Financing You Flight Training
Most flight schools expect payment immediately when taking lessons while others will give you a discount if you pre-pay for your training. I strongly recommend asking questions like this up front so that you don’t run into any surprises.
If you are serious about learning to fly but aren’t sure you can afford such a large expense all at once, make sure to take a look at the AOPA’s site on financing your flight training. Depending on your credit score and other factors, you can finance your private pilot’s license for $100-$250/month. For many aspiring
How to Cut Costs
If you are serious about earning your pilot’s license but short on money, here are a few ways you can get through this process while saving as much money as possible.
- Don’t get the most expensive headsets and other technology. Although it’s nice to have all the cutting edge toys, you can get by just fine with a basic aviation headset.
- Study all the training materials on your own and before you start flying. This will cut out you having to pay the instructor to help you pass the written test and will put you in a position to learn quickly once you’re in the air
- Try to get the entire program done in just a few months. The longer you stretch this process out over, the more practice (and flight time) you’ll need to feel comfortable taking the final check ride.
Although it can seem like a large financial investment, learning to fly can also be a rewarding experience that you’ll be glad you did for years to come. After all, you only have to go through paying for all these expenses once before becoming certified. After that it’s up to you how often you fly and you aren’t going to have to make such a large financial investment all at once.