One of the first questions any pilot gets, when quizzed by an interested person, is “how much does a pilot license cost?”. It’s a fair question because almost nobody outside GA knows.
Depending on what machine you want to fly and for what reason, the costs are between a couple of thousand dollars and a luxury car.
No help? Yeah – sorry but it’s not that easy. Here’s a little more.
An ultralight aircraft can be flown with a fairly basic license, therefore the costs are less expensive. Perhaps a few thousand dollars might get you sorted. Not too bad for all that training and knowledge.
Want to fly a “Cessna”? – OK, you’ll need either a recreational license or PPL (private pilot license) and that’ll cost you between $5,000 and $15,000 depending on how quickly you learn and how well you do with your flying.
If you want to fly for a living, perhaps as a commercial pilot or instructor, then it’s more time, training and money. Of course, flying jets and commuter aircraft is more again – but that gets away from general aviation and more into civil – and we don’t get into that.
These costs are, of course, very approximate and depend entirely on you, your instructor, time needed, the facility you choose, the aircraft you train on and even fuel costs at the time.
Many schools have costs right on their websites. Often they base the PPL on 40 hours plus ground-school. This is great if you can do it in 40 – some do and some don’t.
For certain, check into what you want to fly before you take lessons. See our “type” page” for some ideas on options in machine – and then pick a license to suit. You may think you want your PPL but when you research, you may find a “Rec” license will suit your flying – or an AULA bird is what you want.
Not all schools do the same thing. Some offer ultralight licensing for a variety of aircraft, others only Rec/PPL and above. Clubs and schools tend to specialize so check it out ahead of time. Obviously, if you want to fly helicopters, you’ll need a school that does that – and there are several.
Finally, always talk to a local club or flight school before making-up your mind. We try to write for everyone but flying is a uniquely personal thing. The author passed his PPL at about 40 hours, knows others who did it faster and some who took much longer. We’re all pilots – it’s not a race and training is as much fun as flying.
If you’re licensed, add your comments below to let people know how you did it!