How much and how long?

These two questions are what Leighnor Aircraft usually gets asked very early when a new person comes into the office inquiring about flight training. While the answer usually depends somewhat on the general skill of the aspiring pilot, there are some general estimates that can be provided.

How much does it cost?

Federal minimums under FAA regulations for a Private Pilot certificate are 40 hours total flight time and 20 hours dual instruction flight time.

With money on account credits and the Wings Above Yavapai membership at Leighnor Aircraft, the hourly cost of a training aircraft is going to be just less than $100/hour if training in a Light Sport Aircraft (LSA).

For easy math, these examples will use $100/hour as the aircraft cost.

Total time – 40 x $100 = $4,000, Instructor – 20 x $40 = $800
Books, materials, examiner fee and headset (assume reasonable) $800 – $1,500

So, at a minimum, a new pilot will probably spend about $6,000 for a Private Pilot certificate based on Federal minimums.

National averages for Private Pilot certificates are in the 60-70-hour range and probably closer to 30 hours of instruction.

Total time – 65 x $100 = $6,500, Instructor – 30 x $40 = $1,200, Books et al – $800 – $1,500

Based on these estimates, a new pilot will be around $8,000 total cost if the new pilot falls more into the national average.

These assumptions assume the new pilot is training in a Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) such as a Cessna 162 or Aeroprakt A22LS. If a heavier more costly aircraft such as a Cessna 172 is used, the hourly cost will go up considerably. In which case the range of flight training costs is likely between $10,000 and $15,000 depending on the amount of hours required.

How long does it take?

Most flight instructors in an ideal situation would recommend two to three lessons in a week’s period. Any more lessons and you risk saturating a new pilot with too much information too soon. On the other side of the question, a new flight student would want to try and fly at least once a week. Stretching the time out further than a week will risk having to relearn material from the prior lesson.

Weather will also sometimes impact the timeline. A stretch of bad weather or high winds could introduce additional time into learning to fly.

Student pilots also need to have time to study to pass a written test. There is also material that will have to be reviewed as part of your aviation training.

Typically a 2-4 month period of time will allow for a student to get through flight training and pass the Private Pilot check ride. A Sport Pilot has lower requirements so a 4-6 week program will likely suffice.

Leighnor Aircraft absolutely DOES NOT recommend “boot camp” type of flight training programs. In those types of programs, they can get a student past the tests, however it is questionable about how well that knowledge is actually retained. The other risk is burnout as well as a strenuous intense experience learning to fly which should be a fun experience and not painful.

Updated on December 23, 2021

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