You have no control over how much an airplane, or fuel, costs. But you do have some control over the amount of money flowing out of your wallet every time you fly.
Here are just a few suggestions on how to save money:
- Keep current. It will keep your insurance rates down.
- Get your instrument rating (see first point).
- Do some of your own maintenance, such as oil changes.
- Join a group such as AOPA or EAA and take advantage of discounts on everything from insurance to flight planning. These organizations also have a wealth of helpful information that is often free to members.
- Join a flying club. When members pool their resources, the cost of ownership goes down.
- Do your homework before buying anything, especially an airplane. Don’t just look at the bottom line, but also look at operating costs, maintenance costs, hangar or tie-down fees, insurance costs, fuel costs and more.
- Buy a share of an airplane. Lease it back to the FBO. Spreading the cost of the aircraft among several people cuts your cost, as does the lease back. Or look into one of the new GA fractional companies.
- Share a hangar. There are devices on the market that allow you to safely stack aircraft or place them on a carousel so that all the hangar space is used.
- Attend Wings programs and seminars. Many give helpful ideas on managing fuel or other money-saving tips. It will also give you the opportunity to meet like-minded pilots who may have found some secrets to penny-pinching that they are willing to share.
- Learn proper leaning techniques. This will save immensely on fuel.
- Undertake a regular physical fitness program. It is a lot less expensive to maintain your medical certificate than it is to get it back after illness. Avoid health-threatening behavior such as smoking and poor diet.
- Share rides to fly-ins and air shows. Pool your resources for those long treks to AirVenture, Arlington and Sun ‘n Fun.
- Pack your own lunch. The money you save by not buying that hamburger at the airport restaurant could be used to buy a sectional, put more fuel in the tank, or pays for more instruction.
- Make time for flying. When life gets in the way it can be difficult to get back into aviation again and your proficiency suffers.
Student pilot? You can save money too:
- Barter. A CFI may be willing to exchange lessons for a dental checkup, a car tuneup or tax preparation. An FBO owner may be willing to exchange aircraft rental for bookkeeping, painting or mowing.
- Buy used books. Check eBay and Amazon.com for used copies of popular reference books that do not have expiration dates.
- Buy a used headset and gear bag. Make an offer on the gear of a pilot who is hanging up his wings because of age or other factors.
- Do as much study on your own time as you can. The better prepared you are for each lesson, the faster the instruction will take place.
- Apply for aviation scholarships. You do not need to be a high school or college student. Check with service clubs such as Rotary or aviation organizations for scholarship opportunities.