How much does it cost to become a pilot?
The FAA requires minimum of 40 hours of flight training for someone to earn a private pilot certificate, but almost everyone needs more than the minimum number of hours to prepare for the practical test. Variables include airplane rental costs, student aptitude, training frequency, diligence with home study, and instructor experience and efficiency. With more than 10,000 hours of experience training people how to fly small airplanes, we have the experience and the knowledge to help our customers earn a private pilot certificate in close to the FAA minimum. With that said, you can expect to spend about $8,000 to $10,000; see our Estimated Training Costs page for more details.
How much does each lesson cost?
Instruction services and airplane rental are each billed separately, by the hour. A flight lesson generally includes 1-3 hours of instruction (both on the ground and in the airplane) and 1-2 hours of airplane rental. You can expect to spend about $200 to $400 per lesson, depending on what’s on the agenda and which airplane you are flying (the two-seat Cessna 152 or the four-seat Cessna 172). Cross-country flight lessons are a bit longer, and hence a bit more expensive.
How much will it cost to get my Instrument rating?
That depends on how much flight time you’ve accumulated since earning your private pilot certificate. You can start working on your Instrument rating immediately, however keep in mind that the FAA requires that you log at least 50 hours of cross country time as pilot in command (PIC) before you are eligible for the Instrument rating. (A cross country in this context is any flight of at least 50 nautical miles straight-line distance from takeoff to touchdown.) You’ll also need to log 40 hours of simulated or actual instrument flight experience. We encourage our students to use our Elite PI-135 BATD flight simulator as much as practical to learn the basics on the ground before practicing in a less efficient and more expensive airplane.
How often should I take lessons, and how long does it take to complete the training?
We recommend that you schedule a minimum of one lesson per week in order to progress and maintain proficiency. Learning to fly is similar to learning to play a musical instrument in that regular, frequent practice results in better performance. It also allows you to complete the program more efficiently. You should expect to spend 6-12 months to complete your pilot training, however the program can be completed in much less time if your schedule and budget allow.
Am I too old (or young) to learn to fly?
Although training can begin at any age, you must be at least 16 to solo and 17 to earn a private pilot certificate. There is no upper age limit — you are never too old to start flying!
Are there any medical conditions that would keep me from flying?
To fly as a student pilot or private pilot in a non-light sport aircraft, you need to obtain a Third Class Medical Certificate from an FAA Aviation Medical Examiner (AME). You must complete a self-disclosure questionnaire prior to the exam. Certain medical conditions and related medications are considered disqualifying. For more information, visit the FAA’s website or call the AOPA Medical Certification department. Also see this page on AOPA’s Flight Training website.
Is it safe?
Flying airplanes is a very safe activity because you, as the pilot, are in total control. You get to decide when, where and how you fly, and our job as your instructors it to teach you how to make safe, responsible decisions as a pilot. The FAA enforces strict rules on how airplanes are maintained, so serious mechanical problems are rare. Most aviation accidents are due to poor decision making by the pilot.
Do I need to purchase renter’s insurance?
Can I train in my own aircraft instead of renting one?
Absolutely. However, keep in mind that Holladay Aviation charges an additional $15 per hour for flight instruction in customer owned aircraft. This may be offset by the hourly cost of ownership vs. rental, but there are host of factors involved. If you’re considering an aircraft purchase, we encourage you to do your homework starting with AOPA’s Buying an Aircraft guide. Having owned numerous aircraft ourselves, we are happy to meet with students to do a thorough pre-purchase analysis. Normal ground instruction rates apply for these consultations.
Do you accept VA benefits for flight training? Do you offer any military discounts?
At this time we are unable to accept VA benefits for flight training, due to certain restrictions imposed by the government on the use of those funds. However, active duty service men and women can receive $20 off their first flight lesson or discovery flight (proper ID required).