Thinking About Becoming a Pilot? Here’s How Much it Will Cost

By
Updated April 1, 2017
Trever
Trever

Trever is a commercial pilot with over 1,600 hours of flight time as well as the owner and general manager of Inflight. He has numerous hours of mountain flying experience and a serious passion for teaching. In just 2 years he earned his Gold Seal Flight Instructor at the age of 22 and became a flight school owner at 23 years old.

A lot of students come to our school asking how much exactly their training will cost. Although it is difficult to give exact estimates as to how much to budget, we can give you a basic idea or window as to what to expect. The information provided below will try to clarify a lot of common questions we receive and give you a better understanding of all the costs involved.

Flying and instruction Costs

Unless you are doing the accelerated program which has a fixed cost, all training at Inflight is billed hourly. This is not only flight hours, you are billed for ground instruction which includes briefings done outside of flying, and pre / post briefings after each lesson. All of this time however is built into the estimates we provide on the website. We do not quote on the “minimum”, for example for your private pilot certificate you will need 40 hours of training. National Averages however show that most private pilot candidates go into their check ride around the 55 hour mark. It helps both you as the student, and the flight school for us to be realistic and upfront about costs. This way there are no ugly surprises at the end, and students aren’t struck trying to find funds to finish their training due to an inaccurate quote.

Learning to fly an airplane is like learning to play a new sport. The more frequently you practice, the better you get at doing it! We often encourage students to come at least 2-3 times a week for lessons, this keeps you current and proficient in moving forward with your training. While there is no problem doing 1 lesson a week or just a few a month, typically these students finish in a longer period of time and end up needing more review flights to move forward, this in turn brings costs up for training.

It also is completely up to each individual as to how many hours you will really need for training. Some finish around the 45-50 hour mark. Others finish needing 60-70 hours or more. We do on occasion get a few students who finish slightly over the minimum hour requirements, however as we mentioned above, for practical purposes, always plan on needing a few more hours.

The table below is a breakdown of costs (Flight and ground Training only) in a C152 for a private pilot rating. Note these rates are using the Club Rate and are not inclusive of sales tax.

FAA Minimum ( 40 hours) 55 hour national average
Club buy in Fee ($200) Club buy in Fee ($200)
Monthly Membership ( 4 months) ($200) Monthly Membership ( 4 months) ($200)
Airplane rental (40 x $90 = $3,600) Airplane rental (55 x $90 = $4,950)
Dual Instruction in Airplane (30 x $65=$1,950) Dual Instruction in Airplane (40 x $65=$2,600)
Ground Instruction (30 x $65 = $1,950) Ground Instruction (30 x $65 = $1,950)
GRAND TOTAL = $7900 GRAND TOTAL = $9900

For specific airplane rates and rates on other ratings provided by Inflight, please review the costs breakdown on the website under the “Pilot Programs” tab, or feel free to contact us to request a quote. The above table is only intended to give you a basic idea on how flight costs are split up and estimated using an example of how a private pilot estimate is set up. We offer training for Instrument, Commercial, High Performance, Complex, CFI and CFII.

Medical and Written Exam Fee’s

You will need a medical exam prior to your first solo. You may begin training before obtaining a medical, however we strongly encourage students to obtain the medical early in their training. The costs of the Medical vary and each Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) will charge different prices. Plan on spending about $150 for your medical exam. You should speak to your certified flight instructor or a school representative to determine which class of Medical certificate you will need.

We usually refer our students to Dr. Phillip Sidell in Edina, MN: http://flightphysical.com/dr-sidell

Each rating also requires you to do a written “knowledge” exam at an approved FAA test center. The cost of each written exam is currently $130 per exam. Students will complete this exam during the course of their training prior to the check ride.

Examiner Fee’s

At the end of your training, you are required to go through a practical exam, which consist of an oral exam and also a flight in the airplane with either a representative from the FAA or a DPE (Designated proctor Examiner). Each DPE has their own rate, but expect to pay anywhere from $350- $500 for the examination fee.

Ground school cost

You are required to go through a ground school with your training. This can either be an approved “Home Study” course or a ground school offered by Inflight. We occasionally have in person ground school arranged that are held at the flight school, we do also offer an online based ground school which is currently $100 to enroll. This will ensure you cover important information relating to your training which will save you ground time with an instructor.

You can view our in-house ground school options at the link below.

http://www.inflightpilottraining.com/pilot-ground-school/

Aviation Supplies

Depending on the type of rating you are doing, you will also need to purchase additional supplies for your training. Sectional Charts, E6B’s, Plotters and textbooks, these are all additional costs to factor in when thinking about costs involved for your training. A lot of the textbook materials are available free online too through the FAA’s website, so you can save on costs here if you don’t mind using an electronic version of the publication. Expect to spend an additional $100-$150 on additional supplies per rating.

You can view some of the free FAA publications at the link provided below.

https://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/handbooks_manuals/

Headset

The price of a headset can vary from as low as $150 to $1300. It all depends on what type of headset you are looking for and how much of an investment you want to make. We have ASA headsets available for use at the school, but highly encourage students to purchase their own headset. Most good quality headsets last for years.

The blog post below gives a more in depth look at choosing a headsets that meets your specific needs!

https://reviewbeforeflight.com/2015/03/09/3-things-every-pilot-needs-to-know-about-buying-a-headset/

As we mentioned previously, there are a lot of costs to consider prior to starting your training. Our school takes pride in providing students the most up to date and accurate cost estimates. When looking around for a flight training provider, it is important to always ensure they are giving you a realistic quote and you are not being “hooked” into a minimum estimate. You can also see that there are many other costs to consider during your training. Nonetheless, this is an investment in yourself, and something that you will be able to use for the rest of your life.

Trever
Trever

Trever is a commercial pilot with over 1,600 hours of flight time as well as the owner and general manager of Inflight. He has numerous hours of mountain flying experience and a serious passion for teaching. In just 2 years he earned his Gold Seal Flight Instructor at the age of 22 and became a flight school owner at 23 years old.