I finally got around to taking the FAA Private Pilot written knowledge test today and passed it! With a score of 90%, I think that may qualify as heartily passed it, dare I say, even aced it?! In any case, I was stressing much more about the exam than necessary, it really wasn’t bad at all. You get 150 minutes (2.5 hours) to answer 60 multiple choice questions (each with 3 possible choices). That was way more than enough time as I finished in about 50 minutes (and I took my time). It’s a computerized testing system, with the ability to ‘mark’ questions and come back if need be. So, I breezed through the 50 or so questions that I could answer instantly or with little/simple calculations. The other 10 I came back to and worked about 6 of those with multi-step calculations, the remaining 4 I took confident educated guesses because I simply didn’t feel like working on them much more knowing I had likely passed with plenty of buffer.
I never took an official ground school class, just learning from the Gleim Publications books – the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge to learn the theory and rules, and the Private Pilot FAA Knowledge Test Prep book to prepare for this test. As I mentioned in my last blog post, learning from books only cost me about $40 (verus $200-$300 for full ground school course). I would definitely recommend these books, and the Pilot Handbook will be a great reference to check back on when needed in the future.
All that’s left now is about 1 more hour of standard solo practice flight time, and then my practical test!
As I’m nearing the end of my initial training journey, I figured I’d take a look back at what this whole endeavor is costing me. Plus, all my friends and family keep asking: “How much does it cost to learn to fly?” Well, here’s my answer! Granted, I haven’t taken the test yet, so I’ve estimated the last few hours of flight training time (I hope I haven’t jinxed myself)…but here’s a solid picture of how much it cost me to learn to fly!
- 44 total hours of plane time. My flight club rental rates are VERY inexpensive and this is probably the most variable part of the equation for anyone figuring out how much it would cost them to fly. But, in my case (and I’ve flown various planes in the club), the average cost per hour of flight time is $52/hour. That includes fuel. Total cost = $2,288.
- 35 hours of instructor time. That’s the ground instruction and time in the air with him. He charges the fairly standard rate of $40/hr around Chicago. Total cost = $1,400.
- Pilot reference book (Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge), FAR/AIM, sectionals, E6B calculator, plotter, and study guide for written test. Total cost = $90.
- Headset. Another huge variable cost, I bought a Flightcom 4DLX (Flightcom 4DLX Classic Style Headset), a solid starter set. You can check out my review here. Obviously you can save costs here if you buy something used – I bought new. Total cost = $120.
Grand Total = $3,898.
So, there you have it! I figure I’m probably on the low end of full training costs, but if anyone knows there individual costs, put them below.
Yesterday I completed the 3 hour simulated hood time requirement for my private pilot license. We worked on unusual attitude recoveries, which I found quite fun actually. Like most of my flights where I had simulated IFR condition, it was pretty uneventful flight…but this time I took my wife, Lisa, along for the lesson. Like flying with my Dad a few weeks ago, it was a lot of fun and filled me with a lot of pride to take another one of my loved ones with me flying. The fact my CFI was there also helped alleviate some of the stress/anxiety Lisa was feeling going up with me (her first time in a small plane and it took a LOT of convincing just to get her to come along for this lesson). She said she enjoyed herself very much and eventually felt comfortable (which is all I was looking for). One small step for man…right?
The other interesting fact about this lesson was that I took one of the club’s 172SP’s for the flight. It was my first time flying a SkyHawk SP and it was a lot of fun. The extra 20HP made a huge difference and the plane had a full GPS pack and even autopilot which I learned how to use. The autopilot was simply amazing, it really made flying the plane “way too easy” and I almost felt like I was cheating using it…but it’s totally cool! We also made it up to 10,000 ft MSL just for kicks, which my CFI said he had only been up to that altitude in Cessna only 4 times before! So, that was neat – totally unnecessary but something fun to say I did.
Anyways, another great lesson and another step closer to my license! I logged 1.2 hours of flight time, 0.7 of simulated instrument time (bringing my total of that to 3.0 hours).