Cost of the Private Pilots License

Well my final bill came in from Quest Aviation. Now, as promised I can post what it cost me down to the cent for my private pilots license for all of you interested wanna-be pilots. As you’ll recall from my earlier post “Intro To Private Pilot” I summed up what it cost to get started, and I’ll be using those numbers in my grand total for the expenses of a license.

First off what did Quest Aviation estimate it would cost to get the license?

40 Hours of Cessna 172 Rental = $4720
20 Hours of Instructor Time = $800
Training Materials = $330
FAA Written Exam = $100
FAA Practical Test = $300

Grand Total: $6250

Keep in mind, in this estimate they do not include the cost of a medical physical which is required to fly solo. So did it actually cost that much? Here are my figures:

Discovery Flight = $92.56
Book Kit (King’s School Kit) = $344.75
Third Class Medical Physical = $148.00

Instructor Time & Plane Rental (In both Cessna 150 and 172-S models) = $5301.27
Sectional Map (For cross-country flying) = $9.25
David Clark Headset (Optional – but I couldn’t help myself) = $325.00
Oral Exam Guide = $12.95
FAA Written = $100.00
Huron Landing Fee (Those jerks) = $10.60
FAA Check Ride Fee = $320.00

MY GRAND TOTAL: $6664.38

Was it worth it? Totally.

The Check Ride

The Private Pilot Check Ride is scheduled for tomorrow at 8 AM, assuming weather is VFR. I am extremely excited and a little nervous to be wrapping up my journey to a private pilots license. It was a couple short months ago (May 13th according to my log book) that I had my discovery ride, and started my first lesson on May 22nd. Assuming I graduate tomorrow, I go from first lesson to finished check ride in exactly 10 weeks – logging 41.2 flying hours.

According to my flight instructor I am the fastest person to ever finish the private pilots program under her. That made me feel pretty cool.

If you are considering getting your pilot’s license you can probably knock it out even faster than I did if you are really dedicated to it. I recommend Quest Aviation in Tea, SD. They are very good people, extremely experienced, and do a great job teaching the material. They love to fly, and it really rubs off on you when you’re around them.

My $10.60 Bathroom Break

Normally I don’t get charged for using the bathroom, but today was a different story.

Today I was trying to finish up some hours for my pilot’s license. I wanted to go to an airport I hadn’t been before, so I decided to fly to Huron, SD. About 3/4ths of the way to Huron, nature was calling. So, instead of just landing and taking off right away, I thought I’d take a bathroom break.

After landing in Huron, someone from the FBO came out and directed me towards a parking spot. I shut down, got out of the plane, and was asked if I needed fuel.

“Nope, nope, I just really need to use the bathroom. Could you show me where it is?”

“So you don’t need fuel or anything?”


“Ok, that will be a $10 landing fee.”

“Excuse me?”

“$10 landing fee.”

“Where’s the bathroom?”

“Inside that building and second door on the left.”

So I ran in and used the restroom. After I came out I explained that I was just a student flying up to get some hours. I was not aware of the landing fee, or even how to look up if an airport charged a landing fee, and I only needed to use the restroom.

The FBO attendant said, “Well actually there isn’t really a place to look up whether an airport charges a landing fee. But we’ve been charging a landing fee for three or four years now. That’ll be $10.60.”

I say shame on Huron FBO for nickel and diming students. That is just ridiculous.

Intro To Private Pilot

Are you curious how much it costs to start working on your private pilots license? Here’s my personal numbers.

Discovery Flight (Is this something you actually want to do? Or is flying over-rated?) = $92.56
Book Kit (Includes classroom CDs with video lectures, pilot tools, textbook, and bag) = $344.75
Third Class Medical Physical (Are you physically fit enough in the eyes of the FAA?) = $148.00
Grand Total: $585.31

So there it is all out in the open. What it cost me to start working on my private pilot’s is just under $600. Quest Aviation in Tea estimates my final cost will be in the neighborhood of $6200. Stay tuned to find out how close that approximation actually is.

Finally, fun update – currently logged 18.5 hours of overall flight-time. Currently 2.8 of those hours are solo, and 1.6 hours are simulated instrument flight. I’ll be keeping you posted on how my cross-country flights go!