View Full Version : Learning to fly in the Real World

09-07-2003, 03:30 PM

It seems there are quite a few real-life pilots who also use the forum. I have a question to you all... What does it take to learn to fly real planes in the real world? I'm quite tempted, how much time and money do you need to go through the lessons and get a license? I'm imagining it to be pretty expensive....

09-07-2003, 03:30 PM

It seems there are quite a few real-life pilots who also use the forum. I have a question to you all... What does it take to learn to fly real planes in the real world? I'm quite tempted, how much time and money do you need to go through the lessons and get a license? I'm imagining it to be pretty expensive....

09-07-2003, 03:33 PM
yea thats an interesting question as I will also need to learn it in order to be able to fly the 1:1 Ju88 i'm gonna build

09-07-2003, 03:41 PM

There are darn few firsts you will ever experience that top it!!

Your first unassisted takeoff, your first unassisted landing, YOUR FIRST SOLO FLIGHT! Your first cross country, etc.

I hardily recommend it if you have the desire, I kick myself for not starting sooner in life. As I look back, I can not find now a valid reason I delayed...... that was 27 years ago.

When I land now, I have to sit in the bird a few minutes and savor the day.

Go for it!


C.O. Replacement Air Group
Birds of Prey. 16th GvIAP

09-07-2003, 03:43 PM
I think I spent around $3,000 on flight lessons. Plus you need to buy all of your flight equipment (lesson books, flight log, etc). Check out www.beapilot.com (http://www.beapilot.com) for some more info. As for what it takes to fly in real life..I really don't know how to answer that one. Its both harder and easier at the same time as compared to "flying" in FB. I strongly recommend at least taking 1 flight to see for yourself /i/smilies/16x16_smiley-wink.gif

Message Edited on 09/07/0302:45PM by ziifnab

09-07-2003, 03:49 PM
If you have the money, do it. If not, wait until you do, so that you can do it all at once and not wait in between. If you wait, you have to gain back the proficiency you have lost, and it's no fun.

It will cost you $3k-$4k at the bare minimum, not including equipment. At many smaller airports, there are places to learn, and it is not hard to go on the web and find out where these are, and if there is one near you.

Good luck.

09-07-2003, 04:25 PM
I have to agree with BP05 Jinx. It was by far the most exciting group of experiences that I have ever had. My first solo flight took place after only 7 hours dual instruction. Away too early but I survived the flight and even made a good landing. When my wheels first left the ground, I remember thinking " Oh God, what have I done?" Next thought was " The only way back dowwn is to fly this thing so knuckle down wimp". On final approach, my knees were knocking so badly I was not sure if it was from fear or the cold. I soloed on a cold crisp day in Canada in a Cessna 150 call sign RNV in 1967.

After a couple of hundred hours, I started to get bored with joyriding. Not only that it was costing me a small fortune and I had lots of other hobbies that required cash. I tried to get a job flying and even volunteered to go to Vietnam if I could fly. Applied with the USAF but they said I couldn't fly unless I was an officer and that required me to be a US citizen which I was not.

So flying fell by the wayside. No regrets though in learning. I think it made a man out of me!

09-07-2003, 04:35 PM
Am more tempted than ever, though I'd better start saving... maybe next summer!

Are there any UK pilots who can let me know how much it cost them, those US dollar prices translate to around 2 to 3 grand in sterling, is that realistic or, like everything else, will it cost more in the UK?

One further question, do you need 20:20 perfect vision, I don't need to wear glasses but my eyesight isn't perfect.... I guess there is some kind of medical examination you need to pass.

09-07-2003, 04:36 PM
Flake99 wrote:

- I have a question to you all...
- What does it take to learn to fly real planes in
- the real world? I'm quite tempted, how much time
- and money do you need to go through the lessons and
- get a license?

All of this assumes you're in the US. As others have mentioned, the average cost these days runs about $3,500 - $4,500.

One of the first things you'll need to do is a get a medical exam by an AME (Aviation Medical Examiner), chances are there's one near you, and it's possible that someone in your regular doctor's office is one. All you need to fly as a private citizen is a 3rd class medical. Basically if you're currently alive and not likely to die within the next 5 minutes, you'll pass. Cost for the exam and certificate varies, but for a 3rd class medical it's not usually more than about $50.

I need a second class for what I do, so that's roughly $70.

You'll need books to study from, at the least there will probably be some form of textbook, a PIM (Pilot's Information Manual) for the aircraft you will be flying, a FAR/AIM (Regs & info), possibly a workbook, and I'd highly suggest picking up a Gleim book for the Private Pilot written test. Assume textbook costs between $150-$200 and I think you'll be okay.

You'll also need a plotter ($8-10) and a flight computer. You can go cheap and reliable and get a "whiz-wheel" for $10 or so, or you can get fast, (overly) accurate, easy and more expensive with an electronic version. Figure around $70 for that. You'll also need a sectional chart or two. They're around $7-$8 each. They're good for 6 months from date of issue, but often need to be replaced due to wear and tear before then. In general, plan on ~$20 in chart costs every 6 months, unless you're going on a cross country flight and need to buy more charts.

You'll most likely want a headset as well. Chances are the FBO (Fixed Base Operator) where you're flying will have a set for rent for a couple bucks an hour. If you fly a lot you'll probably want a set of your very own. Costs for those can range from about $100 to over $1,000, depending on what you want to get.

Rental fees for the aircraft and instructor will vary between FBOs, but for a C172 and an instructor, you'll probably be looking in the neighborhood of $100/hr.

There will be ground school time, which will cost you for the instructor, but not the plane, so that's likely to be around $40/hr. Costs will vary though.

Flight time: Minimum requirement of 40 hours, but most people will be looking at 60-80. It all depends on how much studying you do outside of the "classroom" and how quickly you pick stuff up. You may get it quicker, or not, there's nothing wrong with either.

Without a doubt, the more frequently you fly, the less money it will cost you in the long run and the fewer hours it'll take you to get your certificate. You should fly at least twice a week, three times (or more) is better. Any less than that and you'll be spending most of your lesson relearning what you covered last time, especially in the beginning.

Parts of it are going to be tough and frustrating at times, even overwhelming, but stay with it, at some point it'll all just suddenly "click" and you'll wonder how you ever had trouble doing it.

It's a significant commitment in time, effort and money, but it is without a doubt worth all of it.

There will be days when you come home and think, "What the hell was I thinking trying to do this?" But there will be many, many more where you can't believe that you are doing it, and how amazing it is.

It's the best feeling in the world, and if you've any interest at all, you should do it. Check at beapilot.com, take a look at AOPA.com, and most of all, check out some local FBOs. Talk to them, see what they have to offer and find an instructor that you like. They can give you an even better idea of what to expect.

Good luck, and have fun.

09-07-2003, 04:43 PM
Yeah there is a medical exam. Your eyesight does not have to be perfect as long as it can be corrected with glasses. It is without a doubt a moment you will never forget. Alone in the sky is awesome. But I have to say that skydiving ranks at the top of the list for holy sh*t experiences lol. Your first jump creates a smile on your face that cannot be removed for days. The air toys are the best toys lol.

...and once you have tasted flight, you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward,
for there you have been and there you long to return.
~leonardo de vinci

09-07-2003, 04:52 PM
Binary Falcon, very good rundown of what is involved. S!
I took a few lessons before i headed off to college at a small town airport named for an Eagle Squadron pilot from my town that died in the war. Soloing was one of the best things I have ever done. Being alone in the sky with only the birds for company! Even if you can't afford the whole thing-I have no idea what it will cost in the UK, I say try & get a few lessons, or wash planes in return for some rides- i got a ride in a stearman (open cockpit 2 place bi-plane ww2 trainer.
Anyway get airborne so you can understand why they report height as "Angels 2" etc.

09-07-2003, 10:19 PM
The summer of 2000 it cost me well over $7,000.00 to learn! But I could have done it cheaper if I would have wanted to. I took on a certified FAA examiner as my primary instructor, and he charged me $40.00 per hour, which is way more than a regular everyday instructor. Plus, I had a penchant for renting the Cessna 172 Skyhawk II instead of the tiny Cessna 152 I took my first lesson in. Then I decided to go to more power and ended up renting a Piper Cherokee 180 and had 11 hours of my flight instruction in it. Both planes cost quite a bit more per hour to rent than the scrappy 152 did. But all of that was my own doing. I figured out that if I had hired a less qualified intructor and gone with the 152 a lot more, it would have cost me around $4,500.00 or so. But looking back, I think the better instructor and more powerful planes helped me to become a better pilot. My instructor had over 25,000 hours of experience dating back to 1963 and flew both planes and choppers in Viet Nam.

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Benjamin Franklin - 1755

09-07-2003, 10:35 PM
If you're thinking of doing it for recreational purposes only I highly suggest skydiving instead (seriously). Flying a Cessna gets boring quick. This sim is more fun IMO.

09-07-2003, 11:03 PM
All I can say is DO IT.
It doesnt matter what it costs.If you really want to do something in this life you have to go for it.
I learned to fly over a period of two years, taking a lesson evey few weeks when I had scraped together the cash, as I wasnt earning much.
Eventually became a flying instructor(living on the bread line) and then went on to the Airlines.It just takes dedication and hard work.

Now I fly aeros in this in my spare time./i/smilies/16x16_smiley-happy.gif

http://www.uploadit.org/files/070903-Pilatus P2.jpg

"Spring chicken to shyte-hawk in one easy lesson"

09-07-2003, 11:30 PM
I think all the answers you need have already been given.
To touch on what Lance42 wrote- I myself prefer soaring to flying; but I can't say I've ever found tooling around in a C-152 boring. Even doing a bunch of touch and go's practicing soft-field landing techniques is a blast /i/smilies/16x16_smiley-happy.gif

If you figure you can scrounge 5 grand US$ over two years, GO FOR IT- not only will you have met a personal challenge but you are likely to find a warm camaraderie with others at the club (especially true in gliding circles, imo).

09-07-2003, 11:40 PM
Typically the aircraft rental rates are higher in Europe, that is one reason why there are so many international students that we see at our schools here. If you intended on going comercial you may actually want to relocate for a concentrated program in the states. If you were after the private pilot certification then it would be less significant of a price savings when compared to the hard to evaluate value of learning in the place in which you will fly, and developing relationships with those establishments from which you will rent.

In the US these are the basics (as taken from my posts in TX's "real world aviation forum-BTW Hwkmn is now a pilot, working towards his com/cfi):

When you receive your private pilot's license, it will allow you to carry passengers in an aircraft you fly, provided that you are not compensated for your time beyond 50% of direct operating costs. The Federal Aviation Administration requires a minimum of forty flight hours to obtain a private pilot's license, however in reality the national average is 71 hours. Your actual flight time required and cost are dependent on your ability, frequency of flight lessons, and the weather. Our experience at Cal Aggies' shows that about six months and 55 to 65 hours is what the average student needs to complete the training. I was able to finish at the FAA minimums, and although this isn't common, it can be done provided that you put effort into learning, or at least getting a good feel of the material for the written test, regulations, airspace, instrumentation, radio procedures etc. before starting lessons. As well as keeping the time between flights to a minimum. From Start to finish I took 3 months with nearly one full month of bad weather which grounded me. I knew the "ground" information as I had been reading up on it all for years, and then bought the private pilot books and had read everything twice over before my first hour of dual instruction. I was adept at instrument recognition and interpretation from previous flights with friends, a lifetime spent reading pilot training books, and thousands apon thousands of hours in IMC in sims (though I didnt really know the proper way to so things, and the instruments dont work quitre like they do in real aircraft) , as well as having some fundamental hands on knowledge about real world flight. . .the R/C planes helped a bit too I am sure, after all they are still aircraft, and the basic laws of flight apply to them too! The ideal thing is to get a current pilot to act as mentor, either informally or through AOPA (www.aopa.org (http://www.aopa.org)) I am currently acting as mentor to a recent IL-2 and FB pilot who flies by the callsign Hwkmn. A mentor is not an instructor (and doesnt need to be rated as a commercial pilot/CFI), but is an active pilot who knows (or should know) the basic material that the student pilot is responsible for, and can often act to provide guidance, encouragement and support when the going gets tough, and its nice having someone to quiz you. Having a mentor who flies with you before your training is a good idea too, this way you can get some time in light aircraft and verify that flying really is for you, before making any commitments to a school. (just be sure this mentor is someone who you can trust, and having a bad experience may simply mean that the its that pilot you dont like. . and not flying per se)

Be picky in choosing your CFI, its like getting a roommate, (only this roommate will spend hours shoulder to shoulder with you) and you dont want to have a CFI who isnt on your wavelength.

Now, the big thing for most people is the cost. . so, here's the brakedown assuming you fly the C-152 (most affordable aircraft):

(FAR=Federal Aviation Regulation, the number indicates what part and what section, so 91.135 is part 91 section 135)

Private Pilot Total Cost Estimates

FAA Minimum Hours as outlined in FAR 61.103

20 Hours Solo in a C-152 $1,100.00
20 Hours Flight Instruction (called dual) in C-152 $1,660.00
15 Hours Ground Instruction $420.00
Books and Supplies $277.83
FAA Physical Examination/Medical/StudentPilot's Cert. (Class III) $75.00
FAA Written Test Fee $60.00
FAA Flight Test Fee $275.00
TOTAL COST $3,867.83

Average Hours
25 Hours Solo in a C-152 $1,400.00
35 Hours Flight Instruction in C-152 $2,905.00
15 Hours Ground Instruction $420.00
Books and Supplies $277.83
FAA Physical Examination (Class III) $75.00
FAA Written Test Fee $60.00
FAA Flight Test Fee $275.00
TOTAL COST $5,412.83

Once you have taken an aviation physical/medical examination and received an FAA medical certificate you are ready to begin training and preparing for solo flight. All flight instruction is on an individual basis and can begin and be scheduled at your convenience. There is no requirement to enroll in a formal ground school and ground training does not necessarily have to be completed before your first flight lesson. The ground training is in conjunction with your flight training and will prepare you to pass a national standardized written test. The flight training is structured to teach you those skills that will allow you to operate an aircraft safely as a private pilot. The final phase of your training is a practical flight test in an aircraft and an oral exam on the knowledge you have gained during training.

Once you have your rating, the sky is no longer the limit. . .
Now you can add in other endorsements, like High Performance (aircraft over 200 hp), complex (retractable gear, constant speed prop, flaps), tailwheel, and multi engine. In addition to these, you can get type certificates or a Letter of Authorization after some type specific training to fly pretty much anything. . . from an L-39 Jet, to a P-51 Mustang, to a Boeing 777. . . all with your private pilot cert. If you want to have someone else pay for the fliying get your 250 hours of total time, some training and ratings along the way, and become a flight instructor!!

Black 1
TX Squadron XO

Reserve Pilot Aircraft #2 of Gruppo 313
Pattuglia Acrobatica Virtuale



09-08-2003, 12:17 AM
Flake99, if you are in Europe ( UK I assume) the flight training is prohibitely expensive, I believe is around 150 US dollars per hour just for the plane, why dont you save some money and get to the US and get your licenses here, then you can go back and convert them to ICAO/CAA on the UK...that will save you thousands of dollars, check this link out, it will give you some answers:



[B]Burning Avgas at alarming rates since 1990. [B]
<G>Visit http://www.aopa.org<G>
I love the Me 109 but... "Ich bin ein Würgerwhiner"!! too /i/smilies/16x16_smiley-wink.gif

09-08-2003, 01:50 AM
I recommend doing your training in the US.

If you have the time it makes a hell of a lot more fiscal sense doing it this way. I have 2 friends that have done it and it saved them thousands of 's.

I shall be learning too, eventually!

Tata, OJ

09-08-2003, 07:37 AM
Cannot but chime in on what the others say. First of all, DO IT! You'll never regret having done it. So many firsts, and so many wonderful experiences. You also make a lot of interesting friends.

The medical exam is normally nothing to worry about. I have a rather weird eye-sight, so I must fly with corrective eyeglasses, and I have a bit of tinitus too, but that is not a problem according to the medical examiners. You'll have to do a medical every now and then (how often depends on your age, the kind of license, and if you have a medical condition that calls for more frequent checks.) I do mine every two years.

The overwhelming part of the cost is the flying lessons. Prices can vary quite a lot, so it may be worth spending a little time comparing prices. If you're in Europe, the JAR-FCL requires minimum 45 hours for a PPL A. Calculate with 50-55 hours and you're probably close to where most people end up. Here I know clubs often charge around SEK 1000 (US$ 120, EUR 110) per hour for school flights, and SEK 7000 (US$ 825, EUR 860) for the theory course (all books and one go at the exam included.) Commersial flight schools are more expensive, up to twice the price!

Here I guess that means you'd end up somewhere between SEK 52000 (US$ 6120, EUR 5600) and infinity, depending on luck and skill. A reasonable guess is to add 10-20% to the numbers.

Once you've overcome the financial bit (I felt poor a year after,) you'll notice that the world begins to shrink!

09-08-2003, 08:09 AM
I used to fly gliders (more than 250 flights) and still hold a license for it, BUT I don´t think I will ever fly them again!!! Don´t get me wrong. I enjoyed flying gliders, but last year I discovered paragliding and since then I´ve forgotten all about gliders. Paragliding just has the biggest fun-factor. You feel the flying with your whole body and it´s just sensationel. In a paraglider you are flying - not just sitting in a plane that is flying.

And don´t forget that it will take you a long time before you get to solo and even more time (and money) before you get your license. And you probably have to rent your gliders for many years before you can afford your own plane.

When paragliding you usually solo the first day and get your license after about 20 flights. You can buy used paragliders for as little as 500 Euro.

I have been flying for a year now and started out hanggliding on the coastalridges. And this spring I was flying in the italian alps thermaling in 2000 meters altitude. In less than a year!!!

So do me a favour. Try the glider and then try the paraglider. And then make your choice.

Good luck and "Hals und Beinbruch" ;-)


Some of my paragliderphotos (and warbirds as well): http://community.webshots.com/user/michaelghammer

09-08-2003, 08:10 AM
Flake i work at a flying school in the uk so will sort some prices and info out for you today if i am not to busy

09-08-2003, 08:15 AM
I just remembered one thing. All flight schools I know of, clubs and commersial, sell single test lessons. You'll get up in the air, try some basics for 30-45 minutes, and just get a feel for it. Price is usually low since they use it as a way to hook people. Often, if you decide to go for a license, you can count that 30-45 minute flight as one of your lessons.

If nothing else, do that. Try it!

09-08-2003, 09:24 AM
Thanks Flake for asking !!!!!!!!!

And thanks all for answering. I had saved a couple grand for this last spring but had forgotten or did't realize the cost of setting p my 16 yearold to drive and stay out of my vehicles. The one I got here is mine but she is out of the ones I depend on.

I't's still on my to do list for sure!

131st_VFW (http://www.geocities.com/vfw_131st/index.htm)

/i/smilies/16x16_smiley-surprised.gif MY Track IR Fix (http://forums.ubi.com/messages/message_view-topic.asp?name=us_il2sturmovik_ts&id=zwqtg)

<Center>http://home.mchsi.com/~131st_vfw/Mad_toad.jpg </a>

09-08-2003, 11:19 AM
hi boys, i paid about 2500 pounds for my flight course, PPL-A. it took place in hungary, and this price included everything. it is roughly 4300 dollars.

it was the best decision of my life.

do it if you can!

plébános from hungary

"Der ganze Revierkreis muss total schwarz sein"

Erich Hartmann

09-08-2003, 01:14 PM
Do it, its great fun! Worth every penny.

09-08-2003, 01:22 PM
My father and I were learning to fly sailplanes back in the '70s.Had to hang it up due to illness in our intructers family.
It was well worth the time and money.I plan to get back to it eventually!
PS our instructer flew "Gustav's" on the Hungarian side.

09-08-2003, 06:59 PM
Ok at current UK prices you will be looking at about 6,000 (for a JAA Licence and not the new NPPL one) all in, but that includes books, tuition, medicals etc based on a Cessna 152, (limits being about 15 stone and 6 foot tall), or a warrior costing a little more.

The course is 45 hours in the UK but the average tends to be about 50 hours, we tend to give out accurate prices and not the "we can do it for this but cant"

It also varies hour wise on how often you fly, we recommend at least once a fortnight as if you say fly once a month then not only will it take forever but part of your lesson will be devoted to refreshing what you did on the last one.

The NPPL (National Private Pilots licence) is the new UK licence that has less restrictive medical requirements and is supposed to take less time, but it tends to balance out with the other, the disadvantages is it is VFR only and it is a pure UK licence and hence you cannot fly abroad.It tends to be the one taken by pilots that may not of been able to hold a previous licence anymore, most go for the JAA one as that also allows for expansion.

Would i recommend it? yes if you love flying then go for it, Most schools will do a trial lesson be it 30 mins or 1 hour and that is about 100 for the hour, often just under the tutorial rate, the hour is recommended as 30 mins is just to short, we ourselves no longer offer it because of that.

This allows you to fly the aircraft as much as you wish bar the take off and landing and introduces you to the aircraft, an hour trial lesson we do consists of about 1.30 hour at the school and includes a classroom briefing as well as being shown a check out of the aircraft, then its 1 hour brakes off to brakes on. This First Hour Trail Lesson Counts towards the hours required for your licence, and being a couple of quid cheaper is worth it even if you go no further, you can often go take pictures of the old palatial pile from the air etc /i/smilies/16x16_smiley-happy.gif

This is the UK CAA Homepage amnd licence guides for both versions and will help you if you have any questions.

Hope that helps you out /i/smilies/16x16_smiley-happy.gif


http://www.ontrackaviation.com/NPPL(A).html (http://www.ontrackaviation.com/NPPL[A).html)


Message Edited on 09/08/0306:07PM by Taylortony