Flight School Training Costs

Sometimes, choosing a flight school can be difficult. There are many things to consider in choosing a school, one of the main factors being cost.

Since cost is the main issue with flight training (and believe me it is expensive), many flight training academies offer financing though major lending institutions as a regular school loan. This will be found at flight schools that are structured most likely, but can also be found at schools that offer lesson-by-lesson training for those of us who work full-time jobs.

Most day-to-day schools require around a $500 deposit (which will be refunded if not used). This is to secure an instructor and to ensure that an aircraft is available for you when you fly. This is not usually required at structured schools as you are on a set schedule and your tuition is all-inclusive. Part of this deposit is to cover extra fuel that is used during your flight. If you complete your session and use slightly more fuel than calculated for whatever reason, it will be deducted from this deposit so the school doesn't take a loss.

The most expensive parts of training are aircraft rental, fuel, and instructor costs. For beginners, you will most likely start off in a basic Cessna and that will normally cost anywhere between $60 and $85 an hour. Fuel is sold in gallons, but calculated in pounds so proper flight planning will help reduce your costs here. Sometimes the instructor fees are included in the aircraft rental (or a separate rental rate for flight training is posted), but it's usually around $25 an hour on top of the regular rental fees.

There are a few other costs to consider, but are usually one-time costs or annual costs. I will list these in no order of importance, but all are necessary: appropriate medical certificate, aeronautical charts, exam fees, headset (most schools do not provide one), and ground school. Each exam has a fee, and this covers grading and processing. Headsets are absolutely necessary to communicate with air traffic control, the tower, and other aircraft. Most small aircraft do not have headsets, rather they are equipped with a universal jack for the pilot to plug their own into. Headsets can cost anywhere from $60-$300, depending on maker and quality. Charts are also quite necessary. They will allow you to plot a flight plan, find your position, locate obstacles, show the terrain, and a great deal of other important information. Since charts are usually updated annually, purchasing them isn't that big a deal. Finally, ground school is where you learn flight dynamics and all the physics associated with flight, as well as learning weather patterns, air traffic procedures, and other aeronautical 'rules of the road'. These costs are not relatively high, but usually are paid all at once and it will seem like a lot of money.

Again, most of these costs are included in structured schools as they are all-inclusive. One point I will make that I CANNOT stress enough - the cost of flight training at a school that isn't structured depends entirely on YOU. You can make it less expensive if you study hard and ask questions. The minimum requirement for a private pilot's license is 40 hours, but can take as many as 60-75 hours to complete. A structured school will cost around $12,000 (all-inclusive) for just the private pilot's license from start-finish, while lesson-by-lesson training can run in the neighborhood of $4,800-$14,000, depending on your pace.

Flight training is expensive without a doubt, but in the end it is quite worth the money spent. Before you start your training, do your own research and see what works for you. This is just a basic guide as to what to expect.

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