How much does it cost to get a pilot’s license?

It seems like a pretty straightforward question. Unfortunately, there are a number of variables which makes the answer a bit complicated.  Let’ break it down so you can understand the costs and make an informed decision.

Tailwinds flight school Philadelphia

The costs for flight training can be divided into three categories:

1. Aircraft and Simulator Rental

This is likely that largest piece of the cost of flight training.


Typically, aircraft are rented “wet” – meaning with fuel included in the hourly rate.  Aviation fuel (AvGas) is more expensive than auto fuel and aircraft engines use more of it per hour than cars do.  Our Cessna 172 burns about 9-10 gallons per hour. Aircraft rentals are charged in increments of 1/10 hour.

Our Cessna 172 rents for $172/hour.  If you train at least two times per week, you should be able to complete your training in ~70 hours, which is the current, national average – or around $12,040.

Our Cessna 150 (N16152) rents for $107/hour. This plane has a weight restriction of 200lbs for the student. Training  at least two times per week, and completing training in the national average of 70 hours – or around $7,040.


Our one-G Foundation 1000 trainer VM is an outstanding training aide that will make your flight training much more efficient.  Expect to spend around 2.5 hours in the SIM at $75/hour, or $187.50

2. Instructor

Instructors get paid whenever they are giving your instruction – whether it’s in a classroom setting, using the SIM or flying the airplane. For budgeting purposes figure 90 hours at $60 per hour, or ~$5400

3. Miscellaneous Expenses

  • Books, online courses and supplies ~$650
  • Knowledge Test Fee $150
  • Practical Test Fee ~$600 (paid to Designated Pilot Examiner; fees vary)
  • Renter’s Insurance ~$300 (for solo flights)
  • Medical Certificate Exam $100

Total Misc Expense ~$1800



Based on national statistics, the average person, training part-time, will need about 70 hours of flight time to complete a Private Pilot course.  Adding in about 90 hours of instruction and $1,800 of miscellaneous expense,  your total cost would be in the range of $14500-$19,000. This is an estimate based on all the factors we have listed. 

Keep in mind that these costs will vary from school to school. You may find higher or lower prices advertised for airplane and simulator rentals as well as instructor fees.

Some schools offer what appears to be a lower “package” rate. They get there by assuming you’ll finish with a minimum number of hours (40). There is generally an asterisk (*) indicating that their cost is based on a minimum number of hours. If it takes you longer, you pay the additional funds at the standard rate.

The best approach is to plan for more hours. If you can train faster – that’s great. Any money that you have leftover after you have your pilot’s license can be used to fly – or to start training for your instrument rating.

We are a pay-as-you-go company. The estimation provided above is to help students stay informed about what costs to expect during training.

We accept credit cards, cash, or checks. We also offer discounted blocks for rental of planes. 

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