What is your ROI after becoming a pilot?

Flying is an expensive hobby, especially when economic times are tough. Nevertheless, a cash outlay is always necessary to start any new hobby – whether its golf or flying.

Hence, a recent post by Marc Epner, an instrument rated private pilot who earned his rating in 1976 and then had a 25-year hiatus from flying, has written a great post for Jetwhine that is well worth reading by any potential pilot who might be worried about costs. Marc began by noting that old song “How Much is That Doggie in the Window?” and how that song is akin to the cost question that many pilots hear when talking with non-flying people. However, he then wrote that:

“How much does it cost to get a pilot’s license?” I always chuckle when I hear that question. It makes me want to answer, “Why, are you going to stop flying after you earn your license?” Of course the better question is, “how much does it cost to fly?”

Whether talking about buying that doggie in the window, or the required investment to start a new hobby (e.g. flying, golf, etc), a cash outlay will be required. But the cost to get started is dwarfed by the ongoing cost. Unlike the business world, where corporations focus on total cost of ownership (TCO), we as individual consumers focus on initial costs only.

Marc then noted that in addition to understanding the total costs, Corporations also seek to understand just how much value is realized from their investment. On the other hand and with individuals, return on investment (ROI) is rarely considered because it’s difficult to put a numerical value on emotional gain.

Nevertheless, Marc noted that there is an old saying that “a mile of highway takes you one mile and a mile of runway takes you anywhere.” Moreover and if cost is an issue, he suggested that you find a flying friend while if its time that is an issue, then you should try to combine flying with your other activities.

At the end of his post, Mark wrote that instead of asking the question of “how much does it cost to fly,” would be pilots should be asking “how much does it cost not to fly?” Or perhaps a better question would be: “What is my ROI after becoming a pilot?”


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