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Private Pilot Licence How do reduce the cost of learning to fly
Learning to fly and obtaining a Private Pilots License (or Licence in the UK) isn’t cheap but you can avoid unnecessary expense with a little forward planning. Flying lesson costs will vary but in the long run the cheaper hourly rate may not be your best option. In this video I discuss the cost of obtaining a fixed wing Pilot’s Licence for flying light aircraft in the UK. But the same principles apply wherever you learn to fly
In the UK there are two types available; PPL (Private Pilot’s Licence) and LAPL (Light Aircraft Pilot’s Licence).
The LAPL gives the pilot fewer privileges than the PPL so the requirements are less stringent. As a rough guide the cost of a PPL will start at £8,000 and the LAPL will start at £6,000. Costs for other types of aircraft like microlights or helicopters for example, will vary proportionally according to aircraft type.
You will save yourself a lot of money if your budget organised and available at the start of your training. If you run out of money the continuity is broken and when you return to training you’ll have to revise and repeat previous exercises.
So plan your finances in such a way that you won’t run out of money at a critical stage. Trust me, there’s nothing more frustrating! As you empty your bank account or reach your credit card limit you realise that you’re about to shelve your logbook just when things are getting interesting.
Flying schools are subject to the same economic forces as any other business, so your flying lesson costs may increase over time due to inflation.
Choosing the right Flight Training School
Flight training costs vary around the UK. You’ll pay more per hour at a club with a shiny fleet of new aircraft and an immaculate club house with all the facilities than you will at a small grass strip with a portakabin as an office.
Learning to fly abroad
The attractive prospect of learning to fly wherever there are near constant blues skies and uncluttered airspace lures some to book flight training holidays in Florida, South Africa, Australia, or perhaps just across the Channel. The attractions are obvious and the additional cost of flights accommodation and subsistence may seem a price worth paying, particularly if the hourly rate is favourable.
However, there is another cost that is sometimes overlooked. If you cover most of the syllabus in areas where the weather is often predictably pleasant and the airspace is wide open and free of restrictions how will you cope when you return to the UK? Will you have the necessary skills and, just as importantly, confidence to make a decision when the weather is borderline? Will your navigation skills keep you out of Controlled Airspace and Danger Areas?
Conclusion and a warning
Like any other commercial establishment running on tight margins and reliant upon a strong economy flight schools can go out of business if mismanaged or if they run out of students. For this reason it’s never a good idea to hand over large amounts of cash upfront. If they tempt you with a discount for a large deposit then perhaps a few hundred pounds might be worth the risk but I would suggest not handing over a thousand or more.
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Private Pilots Licence – Flights and further training after you gain your certificate
Whether, like me, it took you several years or just a few months to obtain your own PPL (Private Pilots License) what are you going to do now that you have your pilot’s licence?
The post PPL phase is an important time for the recently qualified pilot. You have learned to fly up to an acceptable standard but this when a new phase of learning begins.
Assuming the funds are available and you can afford to fly on a regular basis you might find yourself giving pleasure flights to friends and family until the novelty (for them) wears off. What then?
If you have not planned ahead you might find yourself flying less often. If you don’t form the habit you might stop landing away at other airfields. Without this practice your confidence will lessen and eventually your flying might be confined to short trips in the local area.
There is a risk that the fall in your confidence level may lead you to stop flying altogether. It would be a great shame to withdraw having come so far but it’s all too common for PPL holders to abandon it at this early stage.
To maintain your interest and continuity of learning, and build your confidence, set new goals. Consider the variety in aviation and stretch yourself to reach each of these objectives when you’ve built up enough confidence and ability:
Join a flying club and socialise with other aviators.
Join AOPA and enjoy hotel, fuel, and pilot supply discounts.
Join the LAA and build, maintain, or restore aircraft.
Visit other airfields. Land on grass, concrete, and tarmac.
Fly throughout the year and study the weather.
Convert to different aircraft types.
Convert to a taildragger, or vice versa.
Learn to fly vintage aircraft.
Learn to fly aerobatics and take part in amateur competitions.
Go to fly-ins and air rallies.
Take part in air races.
Fly around the UK.
Fly across water. Fly to the Channel Islands.
Fly to the continent and visit other countries. Lachlan Smart, an 18 year old Australian pilot has just flown around the world. His advice, “Don’t be afraid to dream big and when you have a goal – go for it.”
If the PPL was the first step on a professional career then you’re probably already aware of the path to further training. You may be heading for a CPL/IR, ATPL, or a Flight Instructor rating.
Pilot’s Licence – done, but the cash runs out
For any number of reasons you may find, as I did, that the money just isn’t available for flying. The Pilot’s licence had to be put aside while I took care of other responsibilities.
However, if it’s obvious that you’re hooked on aviation then you may find your Christmas and birthday wishes are fulfilled and you continue to add entries into your logbook. They may not be entries in the Pilot in Command column but you can still experience flight in all kinds of ways.
Since obtaining my PPL I have had to confine my logbook entries to dual instruction but I’ve chosen flights that are memorable due to the aircraft type and the maneouvers flown.
Extra300 – aerobatics (five times)
Cessna C172 – around Barbados
Cessna C172SP – glass panel
De Havilland DH82 Tiger Moth
Harvard IIB – aerobatics
Bulldog – aerobatics
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