The Airplane

Think the costs are starting to add up? Frankly, we haven’t started to scratch the surface yet. The cost of an airplane is where flying gets really expensive. Airplanes require much more maintenance than a car, use more fuel, are more expensive to insure, and have a far higher sticker price when they’re new—well over $100,000 for even some of the smaller models (which is why I recommend renting your airplane).

That’s all in order to prepare you for the economic reality of learning to fly. The least expensive flight school, including ground instruction, flight instruction, and airplane rental, will cost $3,000 or more. It’s not unheard of for a quality program to cost as much as $6,000 or more. Most private pilot training packages include 20 flight hours with an instructor and another 20 solo. Don’t count on finishing with the FAA minimum of 40 hours. It will probably take longer, so accept that and budget the cost from the very beginning.

The Airplane


Beware shoddy maintenance. If your FBO cuts costs by trimming maintenance, find another FBO, even if you have to travel to another airport Wander down the flight line where your FBO parks its trainers and see what kind of condition the planes are in. Are the tires heavily worn? Are streaks of oil leaking from the engine? Is the interior cared for, even if it’s not immaculate? Use your gut sense, but also talk to mechanics and others on the field.

Подпись: Some flight schools throw in a lavish package of extras, including books, materials, training CD-ROMs, and even a flight bag. They include the cost in the total package price, but you might get a wholesale price on the merchandise, which could save you money.

On Course

But here’s one area in which you can legitimately trim costs. Don’t opt for the expensive training airplanes such as a Beechcraft or the larger Pipers and Cessnas. There will be time to fly them later. During your training, settle for the smallest, and least expensive, Cessna 150s, Cessna 152s, Piper Archers, or Grumman Cheetahs. If you’re flying from a high-altitude airport, you may need the extra performance of a Cessna 172, Piper Cherokee, or Grumman Tiger, which cost more. As long as your FBO pays for high-quality maintenance, less expensive airplanes don’t mean less safe airplanes.