What is the real cost of flight training and flying?

If you are wondering what the real costs of flight training or flying as a general aviation pilot are, a would-be student pilot nicknamed aggieflyer has asked a great question on the Ask a Flight Instructor website about what those costs would be:

I know to get a private pilot certification cost anywhere from 5k to 9k.

What I am trying to figure out is the real cost of flying a plane after I get my certification. I see online where Cessena rents for $100-$125/hr WET.

What are other cost associated with flying everytime? Do i need to buy insurance coverage when I fly, what are added cost? do i need to pay landing fees at airports I land? Do i need to be a flying club member? Any FAA fees? Additional passenger charges etc

John D. Collins responded by writing that he owns a Bonanza which costs him the following:

  • Maintenance: $3,000
  • Insurance: $1,200
  • Hagar Taxes: $1,100
  • Hangar Condo Fees: $600
  • Fuel: $4,500 (Assuming $6 per gallon x 15 gallons per flight hour x 50 hours per year)

His total flying costs comes to $10,400 per year or $210 per hour, but he estimated that a C172 would be half that value. He also commented about airport and FBO fees and that most general aviation pilots learn to avoid those that have them (not difficult to do in the USA) or minimize their exposure to them.

Jim F. then posted that a student pilot should expect the cost of flight training to be much closer to $10,000 than to $5,000.

  • Renting a 172: At Least $120 an Hour (Potentially less for a 150/152, Cub or Tail-wheel)
  • Renter’s Insurance (Even if You Don’t Have Much Assets): $250
  • Equipment (e.g. Headsets, Charts, Books etc.): $1,000
  • Charts: Annual Updates
  • Gas (As In To and From the Airport) etc.: Varies

Jim suggested adding a few dollars or if you end up doing a significant amount of flying, adding $5 to $10 to the hourly rental charge to anticipate all of the other costs you will incur as a general aviation pilot.

Bob Watson added that the cost of a flight instructor will also need to be included in a flight training cost calculation. In the Pacific Northwest where he lives, a flight instructor will cost $40 to $70 an hour and you will need to assume 20 to 30 hours of instruction in an aircraft plus 10 to 15 hours of instruction both before and after a flight – adding around $2,000 to the cost of flight training.

Finally, Brian commented that you will first need to determine if you are the type of person who learns quickly. If so, then you should assume 50 to 80 flight hours for training plus roughly the same amount of ground time and you will need to find out what a flight instructor charges per hour. Multiplying those figures will equal your total flight training costs.

With the above flight training and flying costs in mind that are more appropriate for the States, we would love to ask any UK or Europe based readers: What were your flight training costs and what are your annual flying costs?

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One Response to What is the real cost of flight training and flying?

  1. Ivan Blair January 1, 2013 at 16:08 #

    Most UK GA Pilots join a club when learning
    Annual fee at Sherburn is £150
    Hourly rate (wet including instructor) £125 for the 2 seat AT3 or £151 for the PA28 Warrior

    Typically 50 / 60 hours to qualify
    Plus headset (£200-300) and ground exams 6 x £20 and £350 for other books and equipment

    After qualification PA28 Warrior is £131 wet, or the 2 seat AT3 is just £98 wet

    If you take a plane for the day, unflown slots cost £20 per hour (4 slots per day)

    Club membership includes insurance for 3rd party, passengers and aircraft

    Standard life insurance (on the pilot) usually includes GA flying: so long as you did not plan to start flying before you bought the insurance: no uplift
    Not sure what they would charge if you were planning to fly before you bought the insurance
    Minor advantage to being a late starter!

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