It’s no doubt, flight training is expensive and a big challenge to get through.
As a CFI, the biggest complaints I get from students are having to pay for lessons. How to save money on them, how to get through training faster etc. I’m here to say paying for flight training is not impossible, but is in fact very possible. I started flight training as soon as I turned 19 and got through it in 2.5 years while being a poor college student. Here’s how:
Over $15,000 dollars of my flight training was paid for by scholarships. Rule number one: don’t only apply for all the big scholarships that offer a lot of money. Those have the most competition! The ones that are around $1,000 have less applicants, and if you apply for multiple ones of those you’re likely to get some of them.
When applying for scholarships, there’s so many tips that I could give from being a successful applicant and now scholarship curator. Take your time on your application, but get it in as soon as possible. And make sure everything that was asked for is there! You may be a great applicant but if you forget even one thing you’re disqualified. Do email the scholarship committee/organization with any questions you have and ask what they look for in picking recipients because they’re likely glad to help, DON’T email or contact saying only how much you need the money. Financial need is not the only thing that creates a worthy recipient.
2) Be Smart With Your Money
THIS. This is a good tip for flight training and LIFE. Don’t be the student that goes out every weekend, buys a BRAND NEW car, walks in with a Bose headset….(the list goes on) and then complain about not being able to pay for lessons. Try to work it to where almost all of your money is put towards training. It’s okay to be the person eating lunch from home, only getting water to drink at restaurants, using coupons at the grocery store and so on. If it helps you reach your dreams you do what you need to do.
If you need to buy a headset, buy like a DC brand from Sporty’s Pilot Shop or even something used on Amazon or Ebay. There is a ton of options where you can find something quality less than $300 that will last without breaking. As far as a logbook if you don’t even want to spend money on a paper one then use an online one that meets FAA requirements. Even the logbook on Globalair.com will get the job done!
If you can help it, as in if a school does not require you to buy a certain kit, get your study materials online for free. Remember the Airplane Flying Handbook and Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge are free for PDF download from the FAA, just Google it.
3) Study at Home
Don’t rely on your instructor to teach you everything on ground lessons or in flight. Ask them to help guide you to what to study, but read it all at home and make it to where lessons with them are just building on what you don’t understand. Especially steps for maneuvers as well. This can literally save you THOUSANDS of dollars.
When I say to study maneuvers, do what’s called chair flying. Let an instructor demonstrate a maneuver for you the first time, then write down the steps during your debrief with them, and go home and imagine sitting in the cockpit and practice flying those steps. Manuevers like power off stalls, slow flight, and approach checklists that have a lot of steps are much better mastered this way. This all pays off on your check ride too, you’ll have it down better because you established a better foundation for your skills.
4) Fly Often
Don’t take a break from flying to pay for each lesson if you can help it. Save up as much as you can and THEN go into training. If you fly 2 times a month versus two times a week, it costs more in the long run because you have to redo each lesson. You’re staying at the same spot rather than truly moving forward.
There’s so many tips I could give on how to save money and pay for flight training, but these are the biggest ones. Be smart and make wise decisions, you work hard for your money so do your best to put it to good use. It doesn’t matter if you come from a poor family, if no one around you is a pilot to give you advice, or even if it takes you a little longer than other students around you to learn. If you’re really dedicated and cut out to learn to fly, there will be a way. Pave it for yourself.
Until next time, happy landings!