Let me give you one more cost-effective option that many pilots haven’t considered: buying a block of time. You simply find an aircraft owner who’s willing to let you fly his or her aircraft for a specified number of hours during a specified period. Your local FBO or aircraft rental business also may offer block-time discounts for pre-paid flight. Typically, the discount is ten percent (10%) though it could be more for larger amounts.
The advantage to the aircraft owner is obvious: He or she gets some money to cover ongoing expenses. The advantage to you is that you get a known aircraft at a cost lower than standard rental fees.
For example, if you decide you would like to fly a specific aircraft and the owner or FBO is willing to let you fly it, you can negotiate a price and a block of time. If your goal is to fly 100 hours over the next year (about two hours every weekend) and the cost is agreed upon at $75 an hour, you pay $7,500 up front and work out an amicable flying schedule. However, if you fly only 50 hours during that year you don’t get a refund. You end up paying $150 an hour for your 50 hours.
Some flying clubs, if allowed in their bylaws, sell blocks of flying time to nonmembers. It won’t hurt to ask!
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How can you find out more? Ask your flight instructor, pilot friends, local FBOs, nearby aircraft dealers, and others about buying some flying time. As part of the deal you probably will need to purchase aircraft renter’s insurance and pay for all fuel and oil used on top of any hourly fees. Again, it can be cheaper than walk-up-and-pull-out-your-wallet renting.
"Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore."
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