Learning how to fly and especially the actual flying time spent in the cockpit is an expensive endeavor for most pilots. Hence, a question posted by Kevin Jones on the Ask a Flight Instructor site along with the responses it generated are well worth reading. Specifically, Kevin noted that he began taking flying lessons about 10 years ago until school and work took over. However, he is not set on becoming a pilot but not on taking out loans or using credit cards to do so. Hence, he asked:
Is it more normal for me to wait and save up the money over time or take lessons as I have the money along the way. I have such a desire to get into the air and don’t really want to wait. Any Pros or Cons would be helpful in making my decision. I am afraid if I wait and slowly save up the money something else will come up that I will have to use the money for. So…. is it normal for students to pay as they come up with the money?
Micah responded by saying that he will usually tell his students not to start flight training unless they have enough money saved up in order to complete the training. Otherwise, he would suggest that once someone has a good idea of the budget needed, he or she should save up a significant portion ahead of time under the expectation that the rest will be set aside before the flight training is finished.
Michael Ladd then noted that in many cases, “paying as you go” will end up meaning flying a couple of times a month rather than a couple of times a week. However, he noted two things that he did which helped him considerably:
- He saved up a good chunk (about 1/3) of the funds ahead of time.
- His flight school offered “block time” where if you pre-paid 10 hours, you could receive an hour free.
Meanwhile, Earl Kessler pointed out that training sporadically is like going to the gym once a month – while its better than not going at all, its not much better.
Finally Jim Foley wrote that he flew whenever he had the money but this meant that he also had to repeat many flying lessons. Moreover, many of his flight instructors were just out of college trying to build up their hours – meaning they were coming and going and he ended up having 8 instructors during his training with his first or second flights with each one being so that they could find out what he knew. In addition, his flight school was also buying, selling and leasing back aircraft – which further threw off his training.
However, we want to ask you our readers, especially any based in the UK or in Europe, any tips you may have for keeping flight training costs down. In other words, have we left anything out?