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4 Answers

Cheap[er] Ways to earn PPL

Asked by: 3437 views , , , ,
Private Pilot, Student Pilot

I am a student pilot at age 17, and I just reached 4.4 Hours airtime in my logbook. I Have spent a lot of money flying and i dont have a job. I do graphic design and window washing to earn money, but it isnt too often. I fly usually once every two weeks and i need to start flying more. Is there any way to learn for cheap? I already study for days before the lesson to be fully prepared. Here is the rates i am currently paying: CFI@$30/hr [x2 Hours] C152@$55/hr [DRY] [x1 Hour] [5 GPH Average] 100LL@6.01/GAL   Any help is much appreciated!

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4 Answers

  1. Brian Curry on Sep 06, 2013

    This is tough advice, – stop flying this way. Flying every two weeks is a recipe for spending thousands more earning your PPL. Instead of flying once every two weeks, you should be flying 2-3 times per week.

    So stop flying and save the money you would spend on lessons in an account.

    Your current cost is $115 an hour. It will probably take 60 hours to earn your PPL. I know this estimate is high, but it is a planning factor, and you want to plan for worst case scenario. Math works out to $6900. That must look like a big number.

    So that is one side of the equation. The other side is a concept called “buying block time”. Most instructors will agree to a discounted rate if you agree to buy a block of hours of hours from them. Same goes for the aircraft rental. If you are able to buy a block of 20 hours each, it would make sense to ask for a discount, perhaps 10%.

    So the two solutions I would offer –

    Have enough available assets to fund an intense, short PPL training program.

    Buy in blocks.

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  2. Best Answer

    John D Collins on Sep 06, 2013

    To add to Brian’s good advice, if you want to minimize your training expenses, make sure your flight instructor follows a curriculum. I have found that more time with the instructor and less time solo yields the lowest total time. We routinely finished pilots with their training in 45 hours if the student flew 3 times a week and the instructor minimized the solo time to the regulatory requirement and spent more time with the student, both in the air and on the ground. A typical student ends up with 30 to 35 hours of dual and those with only 10 hours of solo get done in the 45 hours. A student who takes 65 hours often has the same number of dual hours, but has 30 hours of solo. Flight with a good instructor on board is much more focused and productive in my experience as a previous flight school owner. Flying is fun but costly. Students don’t like to practice things they are uncomfortable with such as stalls, etc and tend to be much less structured when on their own. I would much rather a pilot earn their private certificate at 45 hours and spend the next 20 hours of solo as a rated pilot, rather than spending an extra 20 hours solo prior to obtaining their certificate. Also, learning concepts is best accomplished on the ground as the airplane is a terrible learning environment for understanding material. Air work is great for demonstration and practicing, but not so much for learning new concepts.

    Finally, I personally don’t recommend touch and goes for primary flight training and did not permit it at my flight school as students focused so much on the go portion, they didn’t learn how to land and come to a full stop. Instructor debrief on the taxi back along with student learning is much better absorbed than discussion on the go portion, which in my opinion is not heard at all by the student. As I said, we did a good job in finishing up our students in the 40 to 50 hour flight time area without using touch and goes. This last piece of advice is more controversial with many instructors and pilots than the first, but I have actual experience with results.

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  3. Brian Curry on Sep 06, 2013

    Great detailed advice John.

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  4. LTCTerry on Sep 12, 2013

    How about getting a private pilot glider license? it requires much less total time. You can join the Civil Air Patrol and trade your time for heavily subsidized tows. The CAP gliders are generally free of any hourly maintenance fees.

    You can become a private pilot and take your family and friends for rides. Then, when you add on power one day, you will have a lot of real PIC experience that your examiner won’t expect.

    People like to say, “do the power private first, then you only have to take one knowledge test.” If you start with gliding, you will indeed have to take a second written test when you add on power. You can likely afford gliding now. By the time you can afford powered flight you can probably afford $100 for another test.

    Are you looking to fly as a career? If you have a glider commercial then powered commercial training is tax deductible. Ditto for CFIG to CFI-A.

    There are guys in my glider club who have never flown powered airplanes. It was weird giving a flight review to someone the other day who has 30 years more time in gliders than me. He’s been flying longer than my 30 years of powered flight.

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