Getting a private pilot's license generally costs closer to $12,000 rather than the often advertised $5,000, as of 2011. But students can make many choices to reduce the costs, including flying a less expensive plane or signing up with a school where you can do much of the bookwork on your own without the expensive help of an instructor. Ensuring you have the time to take lessons at least once a week is another crucial factor in the cost.
Choose a school that lets you do most of the bookwork on your own rather than having to pay upward of $50 an hour for ground school instruction. Part 141 schools are FAA certified and require more ground school instruction hours. Part 61 schools are more lax and allow students to do most of the bookwork on their own, only paying for actual flight instruction time. Some Flight 141 schools allow students to operate under Part 61 rules.
Choose smaller, less expensive planes to learn in. A Cessna 152 costs generally about $70 an hour to use during instruction, according to Flight School Blog. A Cessna 172, however, costs $109 an hour. Because the minimum number of flight instruction hours required by the FAA is 40, that's a savings of nearly $3,000.
Commit to getting your license as quickly as possible. Many would-be pilots take classes in their spare time, meaning much is forgotten in between lessons and must be repeated. This can increase the cost of getting a license. Flight School Blog recommends you not let more than a week pass from one lesson to the next in order to get the best value.
Study hard. Take responsibility for understanding and retaining the written information and instructions you have and replaying and practicing any lessons you learned while flying. The better student you are, the more quickly and less expensively you will be able to get your license. Since you legally can take your flight test after 40 hours, for example, if you work hard and study between classes, you may actually take it then, rather than after the average 70 hours.
Jane Doyle has been writing for newspapers and magazines for more than 30 years. She served as associate editor for a business/lifestyle publication and has written articles for magazines ranging from "Bank Director" to "Natural Home." Doyle holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Kansas.