Understanding the Costs of Becoming a Private Pilot
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The costs for flight training can be divided into three categories

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1. Aircraft and Simulator Rental

Likely the largest piece of the cost of flight training.


Typically, aircraft are rented by the hour, “wet” (i.e. fuel included).  Aviation fuel (AvGas) is more expensive than auto fuel and aircraft engines use more of it per hour than cars do. Aircraft rentals are charged in increments of 1/10 hour.

  • Cessna 172N (N733PN) – $210.00/hr.
  • Cessna 172N (N20105) – $210.00/hr.
  • Cessna 172N (N862TW) – $195.00/hr.
  • Cessna 150M (N8108U) – $143.00/hr.
  • Cessna 150L (N861TW) – $143.00/hr.
  • Pipistrel Alpha Trainer (N488LP) – $160/hr.
  • Pipistrel Alpha Trainer (N489LP) – $160/hr.


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. The current rate for instruction is $70/hour.

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

Approximate Total Expense: $16,500-$23,000

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 $18,110-$23,000. 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.1

The best approach is to plan for more hours. If you can train faster – that’s great. Any money that you have left over 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.

What Is The Cost?
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Tailwinds offers a unique approach and reliable information, that you can use to make informed decisions about pilot training.

Tailwinds Flight School

Northeast Philadelphia Airport
9800 Ashton Rd
Philadelphia, PA 19114

Phone: 215-677-1240

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