How to afford becoming a pilot?

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Im 19 and my dream is to be a commercial airline pilot. I have dont
have any money for schooling to become a pilot and i was wandering
what is a good way to pay for it.. should i get a private or student
loan or just pay as i go with the money i make from my close to minimum wage job.

I live in Arizona and i read in a forum that Philip answered that it
is cheaper to train here, so that worked out well for me. But, which
schools do you recommend? I live in both Prescott and Phoenix but
would favorably live in Scottsdale.

I moved to Prescott in hopes of going to Embry Riddle Aeronautical
University but just can not afford it.

I want to no how everyone was able to pay for their training?

Thanks, Kyle

-- kyle fiedler, January 13, 2009


If you want an aviation degree, you can earn one at a fraction of the cost of Embry Riddle by becoming an online student at Utah Valley State College. The airlines want you to have a college degree and an aviation degree is nice, but Embry Riddle is not a magic passport to a job (basically there are no jobs at any airline right now and certainly none for entry-level pilots). Start learning Mandarin because you will probably be moving to China...

-- Philip Greenspun, March 11, 2009


You have youth working for you that is a plus. Get a job at the airport FBO and you can network with airplane minded folks.

You will have to work and borrow to afford the lessons.

A bold an airplane ... fly many hours and then sell the airplane two years later. If you are working at the local FBO maybe tiedown fees and fuel would be a little less.

Happy flying

Jeff Banks Alaska

-- Jeffrey Banks, January 19, 2009

It would probably be better to either save up the required money, or to get a loan for the amount needed to complete your license. If you do your training based on whether or not you have money at the time, it may drag it out and ultimately be more expensive. A flying club is generally one of the least expensive ways to learn. If you network with an instructor or two, he may take pity and donate part of his time to you, but he probably won't want to donate the fuel.

-- Lee Pounds, February 23, 2009

Kyle, Many pilots share your dream of making a career as an airline pilot, although it is unfortunately elusive right now. However, the flippant advice that you should "learn Mandarin because you will probably be moving to China" is not only cynical but in poor taste. It is still possible to work towards a career in aviation, if one has a clear goal and a clear understanding of the typical obstacles. Do you have a family to support? Are you willing to relocate anywhere? Are you willing to start small and work up? These days, the pilots who are ultimately successful in this business are ones who genuinely love to fly, and are willing to make sacrifices to fulfill their dreams. Meanwhile, an Aviation or Management degree of some sort will help immensely, whether you earn it online or otherwise. 'How to afford flight training' is an ongoing question for everyone starting out in this industry. You'll have to rent ( or buy or partner in) the airplane, but you may be able to equitably trade some flight instruction for valuable skills that you can offer yourself (from computer to carpentry). What skills do you have that you might be able to offer in an equitable exchange for hours of flight instruction? Meanwhile, you might find work with an FBO fueling, airplane washing, etc. As J.Banks said, you have youth on your side. Make that work for you. Kyle, hopefully these theoretical questions generated some answers more useful than the sarcastic "Move to China". Good luck and don't let the buzzards get you down...

-- Jane Carpenter, March 11, 2009

Personally, I would prefer the option of getting the degree as cheaply as possible (on-line sounds good), learning Mandarin (or Hindi) at the same time, and moving to China or India. The prospect of being a plane washer/handyman/gopher around some small airport and then teaching (probably poorly) for peanuts in beat-up 152s and 172s and living in a one-room apartment with paper-thin walls and eating beany-weenie for two years sounds much less appealing.

-- nicholas budd, March 11, 2009

1) Network your brains out. It's more precious than gold in this industry. 2a) ERAU has pros and cons. It is a great place to network--probably the most well-known and accessible. My feeling is that it costs more to go to Prescott/Daytona and get a "flyology" degree than it does anywhere else. And, just my two cents, get a degree in something other than "flyology" a.k.a. Professional Aviation. Maybe management/admin/computer science/finance, what-have-you. You can almost universally find lower flight training costs just about everywhere and ... I'm just going to stop here. I could go on and on about 141 vs 61. 2b) Regarding the online degree, does it have to be Riddle? Why not some other school in a field not related to flying whatsoever? Just a thought. I work with a great guy who has a degree from the University of Michigan in Oceanography. Most employers ultimately don't care what your degree is in. 3) If you don't love it, don't do it. If you love it, you will find a way to do it. Jane has some good advice about bartering. 4) The airlines are still hiring (yes, it's 3/11/2009), it's just not crazy like it has been. A good friend of mine emailed me today to let me know that he has an interview scheduled with Go-Jet. 5) I've become absolutely neurotic about listing my thoughts!!! Somehow, I'm going to try to blame this behavior on Jane!!!!!! LOL. 6) The jobs overseas are even tougher to get than domestic jobs. Not to discourage you, but right now almost every job overseas is looking for potential captains with time in type in Airbus/Boeing/Bombardier/(insert heavy iron here) equipment. So, basically, they're looking for airline refugees who've hit a wall in their careers with the 121 outfits domestically. 7) I loved it when I worked line service at the FBO. You meet a LOT of people if the field is busy.

-- Jason Hackney, March 11, 2009

Weird, sometimes the formatting carries through, sometimes it doesn't.

-- Jason Hackney, March 11, 2009

If you plan to learn to fly at a local airport and not at college, then here's some advice that will save you a lot of money.

Either find a Part 141 school, or use a private pilot syllabus, like the Jepp one. Do not "just go flying."

Finish your ground school and exam ASAP and fly twice a week.

Pick an instructor who will be around long enough for you to finish your rating. Switching CFIs will really slow down progress.

Also, pick an airport that's not overly busy and with a close-by practise area.

If you don't understand the instruments, practise reading instruments on MS Flight Simulator.


-- James B, June 18, 2009