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5 Ways For The Student Pilot To Save Money On Flight Training
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5 Ways For The Student Pilot To Save Money On Flight Training

You have decided to make the leap and pursue your childhood dream of learning to fly. Congratulations! You are on your way to becoming what only 6 in 10,000 U.S. residents are able to do. However, reality sets in for many aspiring pilots when they write that first check to their flight school or Certified Flight Instructor (CFI). Hopefully, you’ve budgeted appropriately and are aware of the inherent costs of this notoriously expensive endeavor. Nevertheless, there are some ways to reduce the cost of flight training without compromising quality.

1) Find a Pilot Friend

No doubt, you can learn a lot by osmosis. Most pilots will happily take an aspiring student pilot up for a local ride. Post a note or let the folks at your local general aviation airport’s Fixed Base Operation (FBO) know that your are interested in an introductory flight and willing to split cost of fuel, or a meal at an airport cafe. Something like this should suffice “Attention Pilots - $100 Hamburger Flights wanted--burger on me!, call xxx-xxxx”. Well, maybe not quite that cheesy, but you get the idea.

A friend of mine flew several times with me prior to starting Private Pilot lessons. We went through maneuvers, take-off and landing procedures, and a long cross-country flight with a rather challenging crosswind landing to boot! By the time he started lessons he had quite the advantage and was comfortable in a small plane. This vicarious experience ultimately shortened his training time and overall cost to obtain his private pilot certificate.

2) Read

Indulge in the myriad aviation resources available in the library, online, or second-hand from ebay or amazon. Popular references for the student pilot include the Jeppessen series, King DVD’s/Videos, and the Gleim series. Ideally, the student should be ready to take the written exam either before, or soon after starting lessons. AOPA Flight Training and Pilot magazines are chock full of information and one of the few magazine’s I’ll read cover to cover every month.

3) Equipment

As tempting as it may be to buy all the latest, greatest gadgets early on, it is by no means necessary. Of course if money is no object, then go ahead and buy the best aviation headsets, ipad w/ GPS, leather flight bag, and handheld radio. Most student pilots just need the essentials.. After all, there is a chance that flying just might not be your cup of tea...especially after stall training. So, stick with the basics: an Aviation Headset under $200 and any small bag to hold the headset, sectional map, and a kneeboard.

4) Keep to a schedule

Time is money, especially when the airplane’s prop is spinning. Keeping to a regular schedule to prevent having to review last week’s lessons will reduce your costs and reduce your time needed to get the pilot certificate

.

5) Simulator

This last recommendation is somewhat controversial and basically depends on one’s personal taste. One camp supports flight simulator use for not only general familiarization with the instruments and procedures, but it allows training in a very controlled, unhindered environment that is not influenced by adverse weather or mechanical issues. The other camp believes there is no substitute for the real thing, favoring real world scenarios and all it’s inherent variables.

Lastly, before starting lessons, make sure you are medically qualified to fly. There is nothing worse than paying for 10-15 hours of dual flying lessons only to get denied or deferred the medical certificate, erasing your chance of solo flight and/or the private pilot certificate.

Utilizing these methods will surely pay off. The extra cash saved can then be used for more flying on your own down the road! Enjoy.


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