What's the total cost to become a Private Pilot?

We have a page going over the pricing for pilot training, however that's a little bit of an incomplete picture.  That only covers the cost for the minimum instruction required by the FAA.

It may seem like you need to be a mathematician in order to figure our the total cost involved in getting your Private Pilot Certificate.  Hopefully we can eliminate some of the confusion here.

It's common for flight training schools to quote you a price for your program based solely on the FAA's minimum required hours... only to find out later that you are going to spend much more to finish getting your pilot license.

Let's take a real-world example of an "average" student... here's a complete breakdown of what to expect to pay while pursuing becoming a pilot:

Flight Instruction

The costs involved in the actual flight instruction are going to be the highest out of everything, so let's go over that first.  This is also where the most variance in price comes from because airplane rentals and instructor time is charged by the hour.  You might see schools quoting a price of $10k, while others state it's going to take about $15-20K... Let's dig into it.

Although the FAA has a minimum flight hour requirement of 40 hours for your Private Pilot Certificate, it is more common for people to train for more than the minimums.  In fact, the FAA states that most private pilots train for 60-75 hours before they get their certificate (https://www.faa.gov/training_testing/training/pilot_schools).

But let's assume you've been diligent in your studies, you are able to fly often, and you're able to achieve this in about 55 hours -- more than the required minimums, but definitely less than what the national average is.

At our pricing as of the date this article was written, those 55 hours of flight instruction would cost you about $13,000.

Ground School

The next big expense is how much you're going to pay for the ground instruction needed for your program.  There are different ways to approach this -- you can do an online ground school, you can do all of your ground school in person, or you can do a combination of the two where you meet for ground school lessons that review and go over what you learned with the online program.  

We've found that the best method is to have the student pay for and use an online ground school program to get them prepared for the FAA written exam, but then still attend some ground school lessons in person as they apply to the flights they are going on.

Online ground schools range in price, but a good ground school course from King Schools will cost you around $300.  Add to that about 25 hours of in-person ground classes, and you have a cost of around $2,000 for your ground instruction.

Equipment and Materials

For flying, you'll need some equipment -- A headset, a kneeboard, a logbook, publications and books, etc. This is the area where you can spend very little, or quite a bit of money.  Headsets range in price from under $200 up to $1200.  For training with modern-day tools and equipment, iPads are becoming more and more essential in flying and can run you close to $2,000 if you're getting the latest and greatest, plus a subscription to the flight software.  You'll need about $100 in books, and about $50 in plotters, flight computers, and misc. items.  If you decided to get a middle-of the road headset, iPad, and the required other items, you'd probably be looking at a price tag of about $1,800.

Certification and Testing

Now we need to talk about pricing surrounding the certification and testing you need to do in order to get your pilot certificate.  You need to get a medical certificate (about $175 for a physical), take an FAA written exam ($175 at a testing center), and then pay for a checkride with a pilot examiner (anywhere from $600-$800).  You'd probably be paying around $1,000 for all of these things.

The True Cost of Getting Your Private Pilot Certificate

The moment of truth -- The grand total of your flight training, ground training, equipment and materials, and certification and testing comes to: $17,800.  

But don't worry... there are many areas where you can save money!  You don't need the latest and greatest tech for your headset and iPad.  If you do a home-study ground school course and complete the FAA written test before you start flight training, you will be far ahead of the curve and you will see faster improvement while training.  And dedicated students have gotten their private pilot certificate right at the 40 hour requirement from the FAA -- it is possible!  These things could reduce your total cost to around $13,000. 

We want you to be informed on the complete cost for becoming a pilot, but we don't want you to be afraid of the price tag.  We can help you to secure financing, work with you on a payment plan, or schedule lessons out as you're able to afford them.  Any way we can make it work, we want to see you succeed!

Contact us today if you have any questions, or if you want to schedule a discovery flight to see if flight training is right for you.

Happy flying!