Many private pilots own their aircraft, and a private plane can be an expensive luxury. A pre-owned, single-engine plane will set you back anywhere from $25,000 to $75,000, depending on how fast you want to go and the number of hours on the plane's engine. A new single-engine Cessna may start around $125,000.
Flying a private plane gives you a wonderful sense of freedom and a tremendous sense of personal accomplishment. And there are pragmatic reasons to fly a private plane---you can get from here to there much faster in the air. But the costs add up. One private pilot who owns his own plane estimates it costs approximately $74 to $104 per hour of flight time to own and fly a private plane.
Before you can get off the ground, you must be licensed. This means you're going to need flying lessons of some sort. If you get your training at a public community college, you can expect to pay over $5,000 for a private pilot license; that does not include instrument rating (an additional $6,500) or multiple-engine rating (about $4,000 more). Then, of course, there's the cost of your physical and of the license itself, which is probably the cheapest part of the deal.
An "annual" (the plane's annual inspection) is required by the FAA. The inspection itself isn't so costly, about $1,500, but there is almost always something that needs to be fixed. The cost of those repairs can add up quickly, especially on an older machine.
Take into account the cost of taking a trip, including fuel, landing fees and tie-down fees. For example, if your small plane burns only 10 gallons per hour and you can go 100 miles in an hour, you're burning $50 in fuel to travel 100 miles when aviation fuel costs $5 a gallon.
All engines have a life span, called TBO (the total hours on the engine). A small plane can have approximately 1,800 to 2,000 hours on the engine before it must be overhauled. A complete overhaul of the engine only starts at around $25,000.
You can anticipate some regular, annual expenses related to flying a private plane if you own your machine. Insurance on a small plane may cost around $1,400, and you must include annual tie-down fees at your local airport in the cost. Overnight tie-down fees vary from airport to airport.
- Photo Credit Piper PA28, courtesy gtaviation.co.uk