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How Much Flying Stuff Pays/Costs

Some things are a great value. Other things, not so much!

The Four Forces Of Flight

Becoming a pilot, whether as a hobby or a career, is a dream shared by many, and rightfully so—defying gravity in a big metal bird is incredibly fulfilling! Unfortunately, achieving that dream can often require deep pockets and, for some, the costs are prohibitive. Earning a private pilot certification can run the average flight student well over $10,000, a number quadrupled, or more, for a commercial certificate. While scholarships and grants are available, they are generally reserved for those on the career track and aren’t easy to come by.

As a result, fewer people are taking to the sky these days, and some small airports are being forced to close up shop. Even the airline industry is suffering, with current predictions that it will be short more than 12,000 commercial pilots by 2023. But not all hope is lost! Many airlines are now offering incentive programs to help offset training costs. Plus, joining the military is always an option, and those in the service get to fly the faster toys! As for the hobbyists, cheaper alternatives exist, such as earning a sport or recreational certificate. 

Average Starting Pay For Commercial Pilots: $46,000

Median Annual Salary: $86,000

Airline Pilots: $147,000

How Most Get Their Start: A “discovery flight”

Cost Of The Average Discovery Flight: $100

Private Pilot Certificate: $11,000-$15,000

Ground School: ~$300

FAR/AIM Book: $15

Headset: $100-$1,000

FAA Knowledge Exam: $150

Check Ride Examiner Fee: $600

Hourly Aircraft Rental Rate: $120-$300

Instructor Rate: $40-80/hour

Tips For Reducing Training Costs: Study hard, fly often and pick a quiet airport

Most Affordable Flight Training Option: Join the military

Cost To Train: $0

Cost To Become A Flight Instructor: $40,000-$60,000

CFI Salary Range: $30,000-$60,000

State With Highest Salary: Wyoming

Average: $71,000

Lowest: North Carolina

Average: $49,600

ATP Flight School CFIs: ~$75,000

Amount Above National Average: 41%

Cheapest Pilot Certificate: Sport Pilot

Cost: ~$4,500

Hours Required: 20

Average Light Aircraft Rental Rate: $100/hour

Base Cost Of A Shiny New Cessna 172 In 1970: $15,500

In 2021: $432,000+

Aircraft Still Available For Under $20K: Cessna 150

Price Of A New Cirrus SR-22: $780,000+; as outfitted, many are well over $900,000

Average Hangar Rental Fees: ~$275/month

Annual Aircraft Inspection: $900+

Insurance: $1,200-$2,000

Fuel: $40-55/hour

Annual Maintenance: $1,500-$5,000

Landing Fees: Vary

Affordable Way To Own: Split cost via flying club

Want more Plane Facts? Read about MedEvac!


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