Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Getting Creative: 10 Ways To Fly For Less

Flying doesn’t have to leave your wallet empty

5. Civil Air Patrol (CAP)
The CAP is essentially a nonprofit volunteer organization that's fully funded and supported by congress as an official civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force. The CAP's job is to perform search-and-rescue missions, administer disaster relief and aerospace education, and Uncle Sam pays all the flying costs. Recently, the CAP added Homeland Security and drug-enforcement missions to their responsibilities. The CAP owns and operates some 550 aircraft—mostly Cessna 172 and 182 aircraft—with 18 Gippsland GA8 Airvan aircraft, some Cessna 206s and a few Maule MT-235s thrown in as well. Styled after the military, pilots are civilians who are over 18, and are in charge of all the flight operations. Cadet members range in age from 12 to 21. Each is eligible for 10 "orientation flights" flown by CAP flight officers in CAP aircraft. With the unique opportunity of building hundreds of flight hours at no personal cost, the CAP is truly one of aviation's best-kept secrets. Visit

6. Flying Clubs
Flying clubs take the idea of shared ownership to new levels. The idea is similar to a credit union in the banking world, where many members share assets (in this case, airplanes). There are both equity and nonequity flying clubs, where you may or may not have an ownership in the aircraft. Regardless, there's usually a modest up-front fee to join a flying club, monthly fees and a very affordable per-hour rental fee for the airplane(s).

Some flying clubs own one airplane and some multiple. In either case, rental rates are half—or less—of those at standard FBOs. Typically, you can find flying clubs by looking on airport bulletin boards, asking around the field, or looking in aviation newspapers like Pacific Flyer or Trade-A-Plane.


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