Flight schools typically charge about $10,000 for instruction required to become a Private Pilot. The new Sport Pilot certificate is less expensive, at about $6,000, but still not cheap. You can fly an Ultralight aircraft that doesn't require a pilot certificate, but you still should get training, typically about $2,000, to be a safe pilot.
Then there's the cost of going flying. The EAA reports that the typical pilot spends more than $10,000 a year on aviation including aircraft loans, insurance, hangar rental, fuel, and required annual maintenance. To keep "current" on skills and experience, many general aviation pilots come up with excuses to go flying, such as flying to a distant airport for what's referred to as a "hundred-dollar hamburger."
Aircraft aren't cheap, either. A new four-seat airplane costs $150,000 or more. A two-seat Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) typically is more than $100,000. Even used aircraft that are older than their pilots can cost $25,000 or more.
What's the solution for bringing down the cost of going up?
Thirty years ago, I wrote a best-selling book titled Budget Flying to help new and experienced pilots discover the many safe options they have for flying on a budget. Today, I am a frugal (smart use of resources) pilot with a number of related websites that offer practical ideas on how you can earn a pilot license and enjoy flying on a budget.
How big of a budget? One pilot traded his professional skills to a flight school in exchange for lessons. Another is using legitimate aircraft deductions in business to reduce his tax obligations. Others are thinking like smart consumers to save money on every aviation purchase, from aircraft to fuel to headsets. Very few of these smart aviators can fly for free – but they can reduce the costs of flying and get more enjoyment from each dollar spent and mile flown. And so can you! You can be a frugal pilot!
Where to start? Read my latest book, THE FRUGAL PILOT: How to Fly on a Budget, available as a Print Book or download it to your Kindle eBook Reader. It has hundreds of money-saving tips for bringing down the costs of going up!
What makes an airplane fly? Money!
Who gets the most flying for their money? A Frugal Pilot!
--Dan Ramsey, the Frugal Pilot™