While there are other types of pilot certificates to get that are of a “lower grade”, Recreational and Sport Pilot Certificates, the Private Pilot certificate gives the pilot full range of General Aviation. This page describes the requirements needed in order to qualify to be eligible to take the FAA Practical Test, commonly called the Checkride. You will also find a breakdown of what it typically costs to earn the Private Pilot Certificate. The FAA only requires 40 hours of flight time but the U.S. national average is between 60-75 hours of flight time.

Most schools you will find are going to quote you for what we call the  “40-hour program”, which is not very realistic (but it is possible). We are looking to provide a more “real world” example. While some students can finish the program in the 40 hour period, or close to it, most students require more time. The time it will take you to achieve your certificate will depend on many factors. This table will provide you with where you will likely fall as a budget for your certificate!

For a list of the most frequent questions we are asked please click here.

Eligibility Requirements

14 Code of Federal Regulation (CFR) Part 61.103

  • Be at least 17 years of age to earn your certificate
  • Be at least 16 years of age to fly solo
  • Be able to read, speak, write, and understand the English language. International students looking to begin training click here.
  • Pass a written Aeronautical Knowledge Test with a score of 70% or better
  • Pass a Practical Test (commonly called a “Checkride”) with a Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE) to the Private Pilot – Airmen Certification Standards (ACS)

Flight Time Requirement

14 CFR 61.109

  • Log at least 40 hours of flight time that includes at least 20 hours of flight training from an authorized instructor and 10 hours of solo flight training
  • 3 hours of cross-country flight training in a single-engine airplane;
  • 3 hours of night flight training in a single-engine airplane that includes
    • One cross-country flight of over 100 nautical miles total distance; and
    • 10 takeoffs and 10 landings to a full stop (with each landing involving a flight in the traffic pattern) at an airport.
  • 3 hours of flight training in a single-engine airplane on the control and maneuvering of an airplane solely by reference to instruments
  • 3 hours of flight training with an authorized instructor within the preceding 2 calendar months from the month of the Practical Test
  • 10 hours of solo flight time in a single-engine airplane, consisting of at least –
    •  5 hours of solo cross-country time;
    • One solo cross country flight of 150 nautical miles total distance, with full-stop landings at three points, and one segment of the flight consisting of a straight-line distance of more than 50 nautical miles between the takeoff and landing locations; and
    • Three takeoffs and three landings to a full stop (with each landing involving a flight in the traffic pattern) at an airport with an operating control tower.

Private Pilot Certificate Possible Cost

Description of ItemFAA “Minimum” Program – 40 Hours50-Hour “Mind in the Game” Program*65+ Hour “Part Timer” Program
Price of Aircraft Rental **
40 hours / 50 hours / 65 hours
Flight Instruction with a CFI
20 hours / 37 hours / 45 hours
Ground Instruction (Pre & Post Flight)
10 hours / 12 hours / 35 hours
Books / Supplies ***$200$200$200
Ground SchoolSee NotesSee NotesSee Notes
FAA 3rd Class Medical Certificate$165$165$165
FAA Knowledge Test$175$175$175
FAA Practical Test – “Checkride”$600$600$600
Total Estimated Price $11,016.15$13,848.91$19,515.15
This is the estimated cost of achieving a Private Pilot Certificate in the United States.

The 40-Hour column is the minimum required by the FAA to earn the certificate, and what is always quoted at flight schools across the country.

The 50-Hour “Mind in the Game” Program is specific only to Learn 2 Fly CT. We will tell you what YOU need to do so that you can complete your training and earn your Private Pilot Certificate in the shortest amount of time, and at the lowest cost to you. More details about this program are listed below.

The 65-Hour column is based on the national average (actually between 60-75 hours of flight time) a student accumulates across the United States prior to earning their Private Pilot Certificate. What we call the “part time” program.

We want you to make an informed decision and know the cost of training prior to beginning. As far as we know we are the only school sharing this information, showing the low price VS the higher cost of training, and offering a special Block Rate to earn YOUR Certificate at a lower cost to you…with more money available for renting a plane once the Certificate is in your flight bag!

Please note: Everyone’s training will be different and could result in a higher or a lower cost overall.

***Books / Supplies options vary and can increase or decrease the price shown.

Ground School options vary greatly, from an online Ground School costing approximately $180, to a “Traditional Ground School” (in-person) with varying prices across the country. We hold a FREE Private Pilot Ground School to our students where you only have to purchase the books and supplies for the class. Approximate cost for the materials is $165. Contact us to find out when our next class starts!

We have had students complete their Private Pilot Certificate at a total cost of $8,600, in a total amount of flight time of roughly 47 hours and in a 6-month period of time. This occurred when we had a Cessna 152 and a Cessna 150 available for training. These aircraft are relatively less expensive to operate and insure, as such the rental rates were less expensive and resulted in a lower overall cost for their training program.

**We offer different pricing options to our Students and Pilots. We offer a Standard Rate, which can be found at any flight school across the country. We also offer a Block Rate to people that put cash or check on account with the school, over $5,000. This Block Rate is a 5% savings compared to the Standard Rate (on the Dry Rate of the plane) and is applicable to our CFI Rates and applicable aircraft.

* “Mind in the Game” Program details: This program is offered at a 5% Block Discount on the Dry Rate for the aircraft, compared to our Standard Rates.

Please Note: Block Rates are for clients that put cash or check on account with Learn 2 Fly CT. Clients looking to qualify for the Block Discount can use a credit/debit card to put money on their account but there is a 4% fee associated with using a credit/debit card.

*Book / Supplies options vary.
**Ground School price is for the traditional classroom option. Self-paced programs also available. Check out our Ground School page!

Aircraft rates are wet.