Be a Pilot
What does it take to become a pilot? How long and how much money depends a lot of your schedule and where you live. There are certain minimum requirements set by the FAA (and that's a good thing). Aircraft Owners and Pilot's Association (AOPA) has terrific resources, and can provide you with virtually everything you need to get started, including the names of nearby flight schools. There's also a lot of free stuff for prospective and student pilots at AOPA.
Learning to fly is challenging, but the rewards are incomparable. Learning to fly can be one of the most fulfilling experiences of your life.
HOW MUCH TIME WILL IT TAKE TO LEARN TO FLY?
You should plan to spend about 60-70 flight hours in the air, plus an equivalent amount of ground study – either in a classroom or with books and an interactive learning program.
The most effective way to learn is in a concentrated way. Ideally, plan to fly twice a week for an hour to 90 minutes each time. You'll also be studying for about three hours per week. On this schedule – combined with a few intensive weekends of full-time work – many people manage to get their Private Pilot's License within 4-6 months.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
You can rent a 40-year-old small aircraft for as little as $80 per hour and can find a Flight Instructor in some places for $20 per hour. At 60 hours, your license would cost you around $6,500 – $7,000.
If you are, however, looking to learn in a modern, state-of-the-art airplane with a more experienced instructor familiar with modern aircraft, you should budget between $10,000 – $15,000 for your Private Pilot's License.
WHAT KINDS OF SKILLS ARE NEEDED?
You need to bring dedication, a willingness to work hard, and plenty of humility to keep you safe. You always need to be willing to ask for help. And you need to have an instructor fly with you, even after you get a license, when the weather is less than ideal, or just to improve your pilot skills.
ARE THERE ANY HEALTH ISSUES THAT COULD PREVENT ME FROM FLYING?
Unless you have major health problems – like a recent heart attack, brain seizure, blindness or severe diabetes – you most likely will be able to get a medical certificate.