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How To Really Save Money On Your Flight Training

How To Really Save Money On Your Flight Training

How To Really Save Money On Your Flight Training

The first thought anyone interested in flight training has is, of course, the obvious, "How much is this going to cost me?" It is, unfortunately, a complicated question to answer, because there is one substantial unknown question, "How long will it take you to learn everything you need to know to pass the practical test?" in this article, we will estimate that. We can also give you some great tips that will help you stretch your dollars as far as possible.

1. Take the Written Test As Soon As Possible.

Ideally, I would like to take the written test even before you start flying, but since that isn't realistic, get it out of the way as soon as possible. I would even recommend that you delay some of your flights if possible. Why is this so important? First,  the things you learn studying for the written test will save you time in the air. Learning in the air is expensive and difficult, learn as much as you can while you are on the ground. Also, once you have the written test done, you can focus on flying, and not having the distraction of worrying about the written test will allow you to fly more efficiently.

2. Fly As Often As Possible.

Once you have the written test out of the way, fly as often as you can. Your worst enemy once you get serious about flight training is large gaps between flights. When you are a new pilot, it is very easy to get rusty, and you will find that you have to relearn things that you covered in earlier lessons. Constant repetition of movements will make flying second nature and allow you to progress quickly. Not getting that constant repetition will lead to stagnation and frustration. Two to three times a week is ideal, but worst case, you should fly at least once a week.

3. Towered or Non-Towered Airport?

This is another difficult question, as there are advantages to both. The big advantage of training at a towered airport is that you will get comfortable talking to ATC (Air Traffic Control). When I first started training, I had a lot of anxiety about talking to ATC, but since I was forced to deal with it, I learned to become very comfortable doing it. This helps a lot when you do your cross country flights, as you will likely be forced to talk to ATC even if you train at a non-towered airport. Also if you live in a medium to large size city odds are the most convenient airport for your train at will be towered. The downside of training at a towered airport is that it will often take longer for you to get off the ground, and you will have to fly out to uncontrolled airspace to practice your manoeuvres, which will take even more time. At a non-towered airport you can typically take off very quickly, and since the airport is likely surrounded by uncontrolled airspace, you can start practising your manoeuvres immediately. So you save your time and money. The ideal scenario would be to start your training at a towered airport so that you get comfortable talking to ATC and dealing with a busier airport, and finish up at a non-towered airport so that you can quickly practise your manoeuvres in preparation for the practical test. Ultimately I think it is best just to pick the airport that is most convenient for you. This will ensure that you fly as often as possible.

4. Don't Worry About How Long It Takes You To Solo.

This was a huge mistake that I made, and it ultimately cost me a lot of time and money. You will read stories on the internet about people soloing in 10 hours or less, and start to compete with them. I got so hung up on minimizing my hours to solo that it really distracted from my training. I got so upset that I went over 20 hours before my solo that I actually switched instructors and the type of aircraft that I was training in, which added to my learning curve and further delayed my solo. I started to think that I wasn't cut out for flying and that I would never fly solo, and that negative attitude hurt me more and further delayed my big day of flying the plane by myself. My instructor would constantly say this, and I never believed him until it happened, but it's true, one day everything will just click. And one day it happened just like that, the day before I was practically hopeless on my landings, the next day I flew solo. Repetition forces your brain to absorb the right way to do things and get better, and one day you just do everything right. If I had just trusted that everything would click, kept a positive attitude, and stuck with it I could have saved myself 10-15 hours. Also remember if you train at a busy towered airport (which was the case with me), you will take longer to solo than someone who trains in the rural non-towered airport.

5. Keep Training In The Same Type Of Airplane.

This is another thing that cost me. I switched my training from a Diamond DA-20 to a Cessna 172. These are totally different aircraft, and the learning to fly a different plane cost me 5-10 hours. I would highly recommend training in a Cessna 172, simply because these are the most popular general aviation aircraft ever made, and you can find them anywhere. So after you get your license and you want to rent an airplane, you can be sure you can find a 172 and be right at home.

6. Take Lot Of Discovery Flights And Find The Right Instructor.

Before you start seriously training, take as many discovery flights as possible to make sure you find an instructor who is compatible with your personality. If you are excited about flying it is very likely that you will start training right away with the first instructor you meet, but this is a big mistake. Discovery flights are usually heavily discounted, so it is a cheap way to build flight time. Also, you will expose yourself to many different instructors, allowing you to make sure that you find one who is a good fit for your personality once you start with an instructor you really do not want to switch if you can help it. There is nothing worse than getting halfway through your training and finding out you can't stand your instructor. Be upfront when you do your discovery flights; tell them you are trying to find the right instructor and that you are serious about getting your license. Listen to your gut, if your gut tells you the instructor is just OK and might not be right for you, keep looking. There is too much money at stake for you to settle.

7. Have Your Financing Lined Up, And Plan To Go Over Budget.

You do not want to run out of money before you finish, and you do not want to stress about where the money will come from either. Make sure you have your loan lined up, have adequate savings or some other means of financing your flight training. The average time is 65-70 hours, plan for 80-90 hours to be on the safe side. And be mentally prepared for it takes 80-90 hours, consider anything less to be an upside bonus. You want to focus primarily on flying, and just tell yourself it will take as long as it takes. This attitude will save you money in the long run; any mental distraction or stress will only hurt you.

8. Hate To Say It, But Training Won't Always Be Fun, Be Prepared.

Although flying is generally a lot of fun, there are many times when you will be frustrated and think about quitting while you are training. In fact, about 80% of students quit before their solo flight. I was almost one of those people. Quitting is a huge mistake; you have to understand that flight training is the price you pay for the incredible amount of fun that is awaiting you once you have your Private Pilot certificate. If you have made the commitment that you will stick with it and do whatever it takes to get done, you will get there and enjoy the many rewards of being a pilot. Keep regularly flying, stay positive, and be prepared for some frustration.

Learning to fly will be the most rewarding thing that you ever do, and once you have your Private Pilot certificate, it can never be taken away from you. Flying will never be cheap, but if you follow these tips, you can at least keep the expense as low as possible.
How To Really Save Money On Your Flight Training

Finally, we asked Jeffrey K. Murray (a pilot instructor): How Much Does It Cost To Become A Pilot?

this was his answer:

Hello, fellow Flyers!

I just came from a flight with my instrument student and that I wanted to share with you a subject that came up right before the flight. The weather was kind of dicey with broken clouds and the surface temperature 10deg C above freezing. Rob (my student) debated whether to cancel the flight or take a risk in spending money on a flight in which we might have to turn right back if we started to pick up any ice.

We ended up going for about an hour-long flight, popping in and out of clouds. He learned some good lessons, but it started me thinking:

With the soaring costs of flying today, how can you plan your budget if you decide you want to become a pilot?

The short answer is: It depends.

Do you just want to get your private pilot certificate OR do you want to have a career as a pilot eventually?

If you want to become a pilot for recreational purposes, you can get your pilot's license for anywhere from $4,000 - $10,000. This figure varies, but it mostly depends on you. Some people take 2-3 months; others take 2-3 years. Obviously, the longer you take, the more it's going to cost.

If you want a career as a pilot, however, you're going to need to spend a tad more than that. I'm talking between $40,000 - $200,000. That's almost a quarter of a million dollars to become a professional pilot!

"Why such a huge range", you ask?

Three reasons:

1. Initial Cost of Flight training (~ $30K - $80K):

The very, very minimum you need in order to be allowed to get paid to fly is about 250hrs of flight time. Even if you use an average cost of $120/hr, that amounts to $30,000! But that's just the tip of the iceberg because, with only 250 hours, no one is going to hire you as a pilot. Would you hire a pilot with only 250 hours of flight time to fly your loved ones around? I didn't think so.

2. Need of a College Degree (~$20K - $80K):

In today's competitive industries, no one hires without a college degree. I know of a great pilot with thousands of hours of flight time, including time in Boeing 737's, that is working as a non-pilot because no one will hire him without a college degree.

3. Time-building Phase of a pilot's career ($0 - $50K):

No one will hire you with only 250hrs of flight time, which is what you end up with after getting all the certificates that allow you to work as a pilot. To get those coveted pilot jobs (airline pilot, corporate pilot, cargo pilot), you will need THOUSANDS of hours of flight time. While you don't have to pay for these hours if you work at entry-level pilot jobs, you will be making very close to minimum wage while you build up your flight time. These 2-10 years can cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars since you will probably be taking out debt (credit cards, loans, etc.) just to make ends meet. Additionally, unless you paid for your flight training out of pocket, you will be making payments on your student loans with thousands of dollars in interest.

So, really, the only way it makes sense to pursue a pilot career is if you don't give up until you are making enough money to have your flight training be worth the cost. This requires a lot of determination, passion, discipline, and a little bit of luck!

For more information on how to become a pilot, check back often for weekly posts and don't forget to read some of my articles to the right.

I want to know what type of pilot you want to be? What are you plans for financing your flight training?

 If you have any question just comment below.

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