Are you a wanna-be pilot, but daunted at the numbers you hear when you ask what it costs to learn to fly? There’s no doubt about it — money is often a deciding factor in making the decision to pursue a pilot’s license.
That’s why Mike Arman, a pilot since 1978 and an advanced ground school instructor for more than a decade, decided to write “The Cheapskate’s Guide to Getting Your Pilot’s License,” with the subtitle: “How to get your private pilot license without breaking the bank or selling a kidney.”
As a ground school instructor, Arman said he saw people getting “absolutely hammered” by fancy FBOs that were charging more than $200 an hour for airplane rental and instruction. He refers to that as “shiny airplane syndrome,” and says it chases a lot of people away from learning how to fly.
He notes that too many people who are interested in flying are often stopped by the first question they ask at the flight school: “I’ve heard this is expensive, so how much does it cost?”
“When they hear the price, they just turn and walk away,” he says.
But if they had some insider information from a veteran pilot and instructor, they may approach it in a different way, which is why he wrote the book.
Written in a conversational style, the book is a quick read that’s chock full of advice — and opinions — from Arman.
“I’ve never been called shy,” he says with a laugh. “But I think telling the truth is important — you may not like it, but you can rely on it.”
For instance, he’s not a fan of the Sport Pilot or Recreational License, both touted as a cheaper way to get into flying.
“The utility is just not there,” he says. “Plus, there’s not much of a savings.”
Instead, he spells out scenarios to help student pilots save money on everything from aircraft rental to instructor time to pilot supplies. He estimates the book, priced at $23.95, can “easily” save the reader 100 times the cover price. He backs that up with a guarantee: He’ll give you your money back if you are not satisfied.
For those new to general aviation, the book evokes a sense of “hangar flying,” the sharing of sage advice from someone who has been involved in flying for a long time imparting his wisdom to those around him.
Real hangar flying is getting more and more scarce at GA airports these days, Arman says, noting that people with an interest in learning to fly are discouraged from hanging out at the airport. “You hang out at the airport these days and the police are called,” he says.
And, of course, there’s that trepidation about walking into unfamiliar surroundings — a flight school or FBO office — and not knowing exactly what to say or to ask about. Underlying that is the basic fear of being taken advantage of when trying something new.
“The book gives people a little bit of knowledge to help ease that trepidation,” he says.
It also gives people a clear picture of what they are getting themselves into, he adds. “This is a serious commitment, not just in money, but in time,” he says.
He addresses that in a section on scheduling your lessons, pointing out that if you take just one lesson a week, on a Saturday when the airport is crowded with other student pilots, it’s going to take you longer — and cost you more — than if you schedule a few lessons during the week.
He also addresses a lot of other issues, including flying clubs, when to take your written exam, and when you should expect to solo — “You’ll solo when you solo. Don’t worry about it,” he counsels.
Arman touts the 96-page soft-cover book as a great gift to give to that person in your life who has always wanted to be a pilot, but never took the plunge.
“You can give it to someone you are trying to seduce into aviation,” he adds with a laugh.