Darren Smith, Flight Instructor
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Learn to Fly!

Saving Money on Flight Training

by Darren Smith, CFII/MEI
from PocketLearning, October 2002

Smarter Student Series: Researching Flight Schools | Managing Your CFI | Annoying Students | You're in the Driver's Seat! | Why People Quit Flying | Being a Better Aviation Consumer | You Get What You Pay For | Performance Anxiety |
Private Pilot Navigation:  General Info Private Pilot | Why its a good time to become a pilot | Why become a pilot? | What it means to be a pilot | Why Pilots are Amazing People | Getting Started & Training Sequence | FAQs about getting started | How to select a flight instructor | FAQS: Becoming a private pilot | FAA's Student Pilot Guide Advice to new student pilots | Information for Foreign Students | How to save money on your flight training | Thinking of an Airline Career? | Pilots are very special people by John KingAbout Checkrides | Private Pilot Ground School | Private Pilot Ground School Syllabus | How to Get the Most From Your Ground School | Private Pilot Rating Requirements | What to do after the Private Pilot Certificate | Flight Training for Veterans | You Get What You Pay For

Grant's image from $50 billI've spent too much on flight training.  I wish I knew some tips to reduce my overall cost.  Here's what I learned...

  • Don't fly if you are not prepared for a lesson.  You will get the most bang for your bucks by being prepared. Even the best instruction cannot fully compensate for lack of preparation. 
  • Arrive on time for your flight lesson.  In fact, arrive early so you can avoid paying your instructor to watch your pre-flight.  If the aircraft is not available prior to your scheduled lesson, review notes from your previous lesson as well as topics for the current lesson.
  • Be sure you operate from a detailed plan of attack.  In our ground school, we'll provide this detailed plan to you as part of your training package.  Before you fly, know what you're doing and how you're going to do it.  Don't waste expensive flight time learning the maneuver for the first time. 
  • When you take a solo flight, have a plan.  Know what you're going to do and how you're going to do it and then its a matter of determining if you meet PTS standards. 
  • Each session should be geared towards a set of skills, be sure there's a plan, and follow it. 
  • Take a ground school – you'll minimize expensive ground training.  Don't pay $40/hour to learn the basic aeronautical knowledge you'll get in a ground school. 
  • Use smaller airplanes if possible as larger ones cost more.  Many flight schools have 2 seaters such as the Piper Tomahawk or Cessna 152. Stick with the same aircraft throughout your training. 
  • Learn your aircraft's checklists and procedures early in your training.  You can practice these on the ground for free. 
  • Take advantage of block time discounts if they are available at your flight school.  If you know you'll be doing a lot of training over a short period of time, negotiate a larger block time discount for 50 hours or more.
  • Once you start, don't stop. The aviation learning curve is steep enough to merit consistent attention until you achieve your goal. 
  • Fly regularly.  The longer the time between lessons, the more the student forgets resulting in more time spent reviewing past lessons. 
  • Partner with another student to review material, observe each others flight lessons.  You can learn a great deal from observing others as they fly.  One caveat: remember you're only an observer, make comments at your own risk. 
  • Learn from your mistakes.  Making mistakes is part of the process. Asking questions is part of the process.  Don't become frustrated with the learning process…
  • Perform flight maneuvers exactly as your instructor has taught you.  It’s the quickest way to get to a checkride.  Your instructor knows what it takes to pass a checkride as most have passed four or more prior to teaching you.
  • Have an honest, open dialogue with your instructor about your progress.  Your flight instructor is an experienced professional, and will know how to help you over the roadblocks or can get the resources you need to succeed.
  • Airlines have been rehiring their pilots as the industry recovers.  What they have found is that pilots who have been flying during the downturn, or who have been spending time thinking about flying (mental visualization) are doing better in their retraining for return to service.  Use these two techniques to increase your skill.  Fly as much as your budget can allow (which will help you finish sooner) and when you're not flying, think about it.  Specifically visualize procedures, checklists, and maneuvers. 
  • For instrument ratings,
    • Consider getting the rating with another student.  You can save up to 1/3 on the cost of an instrument rating.  See the page: Working together on an instrument rating
    • Consider an accelerated program such as a 7-Day Instrument Rating which can get you finished in about a week rather than dragging it on for 6-12 months and running up the costs.
NEXT:  How to Solo As Quickly As Possible >>

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