Many assume that it costs a small fortune to get up in the air. It’s the most common (and most unnecessary) obstacle that aspiring pilots allow to get in the way of their dreams. We want to erase the mystery and lay out how much a private pilot license costs, as plainly as possible.

The cost of flight training varies widely. A private pilot certificate can cost between $4000 and $15,000, depending on the location, type of airplane used, type of flight school, instructor experience, and the pace at which a student is able to learn.

Let’s break down the variables.

A flight school will usually charge by the hour, with a portion of the charge going toward an hourly aircraft rental rate, and the rest toward an hourly instruction rate. The hourly aircraft rental rate includes maintenance, hangar, insurance fees. Depending on whether the aircraft is rented at a wet rate (fuel included) or a dry rate (fuel not included), fuel can be included in the bill. Some flight schools will allow you to prepay a block of time at a discount rate, or some will allow a payment plan or another type of financing plan. For any given flight, the instructional hours will differ from the flight time charged. Flight instructors charge for briefing and de-briefing time.

You will want to set aside some money for pilot supplies. Typically, these include headsets, kneeboards, flight training books/online courses, flight calculator, subscriptions to apps if you have a tablet.

A person who is training to obtain their private pilot certificate is required to log a minimum of 40 hours of flight time. Very few students complete their training in just over 40 hours. The average time to complete the private pilot certificate is 60-70 hours. Weather delays, instructor availability, aircraft availability, and the frequency of training flights are a few of the factors why it usually takes longer than the minimum of 40 hours.

Other costs that are required are a medical exam done by an aviation medical examiner and sitting for the FAA Airmans Knowledge test. The medical exam can vary a bit depending on the class of exam you obtain. An exam for a third or second class medical certificate can vary from $75-$150. First class exams can cost up to $200. Taking the FAA Airmans Knowledge Test will be $150. That cost does not vary.

When you have finished the required training and your instructor is confident in your knowledge and flying skills, you will have to pass the FAA Practical Exam. This cost will vary depending on location. Typically, between $200-$700.