How much do flying lessons cost?
Ashburn, VA

How much do flying lessons cost?

Ashburn, VA

How much do flying lessons cost?

$160 – $240cost per hour (instructor & aircraft rental)
$9,000 – $15,000average total cost for flight school

The average cost of flying lessons is $160 and $240 per hour. This price includes the average airplane rental cost and the typical cost of a flight instructor at $50 to $70 per hour. Completing flight school and earning your private pilot license costs $9,000 to $15,000.

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$160 – $240 cost per hour (instructor & aircraft rental)

$9,000 – $15,000 average total cost for flight school

The average cost of flying lessons is $160 and $240 per hour. This price includes the average airplane rental cost and the typical cost of a flight instructor at $50 to $70 per hour. Completing flight school and earning your private pilot license costs $9,000 to $15,000.

Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:
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Tom Grupa
Written by
Tom Grupa
Edited by
Kristen Cramer
Fact-checked by
Paul Mazzola

Flying lessons cost

Flying lessons costs $110 to $170 per hour for the airplane rental and $50 to $70 per hour for the flight instructor's time. On average, earning your private pilot license costs $9,000 to $15,000. Each type of pilot's license requires different amounts of flight time.

Flight lessons cost by flight hour
National Average Cost $200
Minimum Cost $120
Maximum Cost $380
Average cost per flight hour $160 to $240

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Flight school cost

The cost of flight school ranges from $4,000 to $20,000+, depending on which type of pilot license you want to earn. This cost range includes airplane rental fees, flight instructor's time, ground training, classroom time, FAA test fees, and other supplies that you may need to complete your minimum requirements.

Flight school cost
National Average Cost $12,000
Minimum Cost $4,000
Maximum Cost $24,000
Average cost to earn license $9,000 to $15,000

Small Colorful Airplane
Small Colorful Airplane

Flight training cost

The cost of flight training ranges from $6,500 to $11,000 based on the minimum requirements to earn a private pilot license. It could cost more if you need more than the minimum number of hours to complete your training. Below is a breakdown of flight training costs to get your private pilot license.

Flight training cost
Private pilot requirements Minimum cost (35­–40 hours flight training) Average cost (50–70 hours flight training)
Pilot ground school $250 – $300 $300 – $500
FAA written test $175 – $200 $175 – $200
FAA medical certificate $75 ­– $200 $75 ­– $200
Flight training hours* $5,600 – $9,500 $8,050 – $13,300
Checkride / practical test $400 – $800 $400 – $800
Total cost $6,500 – $11,000 $9,000 – $15,000

*Including aircraft rental and flight instructor fees.

Airplane rental fees

The largest cost of flying lessons is the airplane rental fees. You can expect to pay between $110 and $170 per hour for airplane rental fees. Facilities will often give you two types of price quotes: a wet rate and a dry rate. A wet rate includes the price of a full tank of fuel and oil. A dry rate is without those extra costs.

In addition to the difference between wet rate and dry rate, the cost of renting an airplane varies according to the flight school maintaining the aircraft, what kind of airplane you fly, the aircraft's age, and how long you fly the airplane.

Some places only charge you the total time the engine is running, while others may charge you for the entire time the aircraft is in your care. You'll also need to pay for insurance coverage as well.

Certified Flight Instructor cost per hour

The cost for a Certified Flight Instructor varies but will generally cost about $50 to $70 per hour. You should check your local flight school for their current rates. Be sure to ask them for rates for each of the following:

  • Flying time

  • Ground training and debriefing

  • In the classroom

  • Flight-simulator sessions with your instructor

Cessna Airplane Landing Solo-Flight
Cessna Airplane Landing Solo-Flight

Supplies and flight test fees

It's wise to budget at least $1,000 for the miscellaneous supplies you'll need to complete your pilot education. For example, you should purchase your own aviation headset, books, and the latest manuals. FAA written tests and the checkride flight test add another $600 to $1,000.

Here's a real-life example of the miscellaneous pilot license cost breakdown. Additionally, you'll need to pay for insurance and medical coverage according to the requirements of your flight school.

ATP flight school cost

To fly for an official airline, you need an additional ATP certification that costs an average of $5,000 in most schools. You also need to log 1,500 hours of flight time, which has its own costs on top of that

Pilot license cost by type

Earning a pilot license costs $9,000 to $15,000 on average, depending on the type, prerequisites, and total amount of hours of training. A sport or recreational pilot certificate costs $4,000 to $9,000 on average.

Cost to get a pilot license
Pilot license type Average cost Prerequisite license or rating
Private pilot license (PPL) $9,000 – $15,000 Student pilot certificate
Instrument rating (IR / IFR) $8,000 – $14,000 PPL
Commercial pilot license (CPL) $7,500 – $22,000 PPL and IR
Multi-engine rating (MEL) $3,000 – $6,000 PPL or CPL
Certified flight instructor license (CFI) $5,000 – $10,000 CPL or ATP
Airline transport pilot license (ATP) $50,000 – $100,000+ CPL and IR
Recreational pilot license $6,000 – $9,000 Student pilot certificate
Sport pilot license $4,000 – $6,000 Student pilot certificate
Helicopter pilot license $10,000 – $15,000 Student pilot certificate
Glider pilot license $4,500 – $9,000 Student pilot certificate or PPL
Seaplane rating (SES / MES) $2,500 – $5,000 PPL or Sport
Remote pilot certificate / Drone pilot $325 – $475 None
Student pilot certificate $75 – $200* None

*For medical certificate.

Sport pilot license cost

On average, getting an official Sport Pilot license can cost anywhere from $4,000 to $6,000. It's cheaper because it only takes about 20 hours to earn it, and it comes with certain limitations. For example, the initial limitations do not allow you to fly an aircraft carrying a passenger or cargo that you are earning money to transport.

A Sport Pilot License is a recreational license that you cannot use to create a business or profit from in any way. The only international flights you can make are solo training flights around Alaska and Canada. Plus, it only allows you to fly in the daytime with good enough visibility to give you constant visual reference to the surface below.

Private pilot license cost

The national average cost of getting a private pilot license is around $9,000 to $15,000. This cost will vary depending on which kind of professional flight school you attend, how often your instructor has you fly, and how many hours you spend training in a flight simulator to prepare.

Remember to add up your airplane rental fees, the instructor's hourly rate, the costs of books, educational materials, and testing fees. It will take at least 40 hours of flying time to earn your license, and it could take up to 70 hours of flight time to become proficient enough to pass the exam.

Flying Lessons Two Pilots Cockpit
Flying Lessons Two Pilots Cockpit

Commercial pilot license cost

If you get an accelerated training program, then it can easily cost you $7,500 to $22,000 to get a commercial-license endorsement.

Remember, you cannot start earning your commercial license until you first have a private pilot license, which will cost you $12,000 on average. In an accelerated training course, it is also often required that you have logged 250 hours of flight time, hold a third-class medical certificate from the FAA, and have an instrument-rating endorsement. Each of those requirements has its own costs.

Instrument rating cost

Typical costs for an instrument-flight rules course, or "IFR" class, are around $8,000 to $14,000. The higher end of this price estimate is what you can expect to pay at schools without flight simulators.

At these institutions, you'll need to rent an airplane for each hour of training at around $110 to $170 per hour or more. The lower price estimate is for schools with flight simulators that only cost about $40 to $60 per hour to rent.

Remember that you cannot start this training until you already have your private pilot license, have logged a minimum of 50 hours as a licensed pilot, and have your third-class FAA medical certificate. Each of these prerequisites has its own costs, as mentioned above.

Airline transport pilot certificate cost

It can take about four months and $5,000 in ground school and exam fees to complete your ATP training and earn your Airline Transport Pilot Certificate, and that is with accelerated training. However, it may take up to two years before you earn the total hours needed to officially become a commercial pilot since you need to log 1,000+ hours, much of which you can spend as a co-pilot.

Before you begin training for your ATP, you need to be at least 18 years old, have your private pilot license, and have your instrument-rating endorsement.

Many airlines require you to hold a bachelor's degree and turn 21 years old before you receive your ATP. Contact your local flight school for additional requirements. Some schools may let you train to fulfill more than one type of license at a time, so ask them what types of course schedules they offer.

Small Airplane In Flight Training
Small Airplane In Flight Training

Helicopter flying lessons cost

Flight time with a helicopter instructor costs between $150 and $200 per hour. The total national average price for a private helicopter pilot license is about $10,000 to $15,000 depending on your flight school, skill level, and the type of helicopter model that you're training with.

Tips to save money on flying lessons

Many people lose their enthusiasm for flying when they see all the costs adding up. However, you can find a variety of different ways to make the pursuit of a pilot's license more affordable. Below are seven money-saving ideas to help you start your journey:

Block airplane rentals

Wherever you find aircraft available to rent, ask if they offer discounts on airplane rentals if you pay ahead for your scheduled flight times.

Flying clubs also help lower the costs of flying. If you haven't heard of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, or "AOPA," then now is the time to look them up. The AOPA has a nationwide network of flying clubs you can join.

You can search for active clubs near you or get their help to start a local flying club. Member privileges often include discounted airplane rentals. The group divides the costs of leasing the aircraft among its members to make it more affordable.

Get a sport pilot license

Earning a Sport Pilot License costs between $4,000 to $6,000, making it the least expensive option. This is a place to start for most anyone looking to become a pilot. After you get this license, it becomes easier to get your private pilot's license while you can also continue practicing to earn more practical flight experience.

The downside is that a sport pilot license does come with restrictions.

Later on, if you get complete logbook endorsements to operate in Class B, C, and D airspace, then you earn additional flying privileges. You can read the full guidelines of restrictions and requirements here.

Small White Airplane Taking Off
Small White Airplane Taking Off

Study more than you think you need to

Few students take full opportunity of all the ways they can prepare themselves for a flying exam. You can find many online programs and books to help you learn all the most-important flying concepts faster.

With the right study resources, you can spend less time in a classroom and save a good amount of money. Extra studying can also make your cockpit lessons go much easier as well so you can learn more from your instructor in less time.

After you read the instructions for basic flight maneuvers and see them in videos, take some time to sit alone and visualize doing them yourself. Sit somewhere quietly, close your eyes and imagine yourself in the cockpit doing each step carefully. Imagine how the plane will respond in detail.

Visualization techniques are a powerful learning shortcut. Neuroscientist Dr. Richard Restak found that "Positron-emission tomography, or "PET" scans, reveal that the mental rehearsal of an action activates the pre-frontal areas of the brain responsible for the formulation of the appropriate motor programs."

Fly regularly

Flying an airplane requires you to build new skills that you can't get from memorization alone. You need as much hands-on practice as you can get. Even more importantly, you need to practice flying regularly.

Do not take long breaks in between your flight lessons because you're likely to start forgetting all of the good habits you can only learn while in the cockpit. The fastest and best way to learn how to fly is to schedule your lessons as closely together as possible. Plan ahead to make sure you have enough time in your schedule for completing all your flight lessons in one training season.

If you stop your flight training and then resume it months later, then you'll probably have to spend more money relearning all the little things you've forgotten.

Flight instruction airplane rental
Flight instruction airplane rental

Get a top flight-simulator game

It only costs about the same price as one flight lesson to buy your own professional flight-simulator game system to practice at home. You can connect it to almost any kind of desktop computer or laptop. Some models come with external rudder pedals also to make it more realistic.

This game can help you become comfortable with reading the instrument panel. It also develops your basic motor skills so that you'll be more prepared when you're flying your own aircraft.

Use "recycled" training materials

Many new pilots are happy to trade in their old books for a little extra cash. That makes it easy to find used aviation-education books online that you can buy at an affordable discount. Type in the title of the book you need to search for it on websites like Amazon, CraigsList, or eBay. You can also ask your flight school if they have a program to swap books.

Remember though that you should always try to get the latest version of whichever book you need. FAA regulations can change every year. You don't want to confuse yourself by learning outdated material that will confuse you later during exams.

Apply for scholarships

You can find hundreds of different aviation and flight-training scholarships and grants available. Check this regularly updated list of aviation scholarships to find a source of financial assistance that you might qualify for. You can apply for almost all of them online.

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