Compared to the cost of flying in Europe, flying anywhere in the United States will be considerably less expensive. However, don't look for the "cheapest" rentals; you'll find them, and you'll regret using them. Some times paying a little more, or dealing with a little inconvenience in scheduling, is worth the wait. Even then, the costs will be far less than in europe.
The hardest part of flying to be sure, is paying for it. However, in aviation as in most endevors, using the low bidder is seldom the wise course of action.
Thanks so much for your advice. My friend is looking for a place that offers share time or any other way to save money, but I'm sure you're right that sometimes a bargain isn't a bargain at all. What kinds of places would you warn him against? Are there any places you would recommend? He'd prefer to be in Massachusetts, Southern California, Florida or Texas. Thanks again for your reply.
Most schools do not fly unsafe equipment. If you look for the absolute cheapes rental rates, you are going to run into outdated radios that may only work half the time and that kind of thing. The biggest inconvenience you'll find is that you get frequent cancellations for maintenace. This can be a real bummer, especially if the school is very busy or doesn't have many planes. I would not advocate paying for brand new planes, but don't go anywhere that feels shady or has "a weekend guy" who does their maintenance. If they have their own maintanence department, that is a good sign. It's cool if they farm out their maintanence to a reputable repair/maintanence facility although you'll find that when planes do break, it takes the school longer to get them fixed if they have to rely on outside facilities.
I would suggest FL as the cheapest area, they are many more flight schools and thus there is more competition. One school that I trust is Epic avaition is New Symerna airport. I like their C152s. Now one school to avoid is Phil Air in Daytona Beach, they are well not exactly know for their excellent planes.
Look into a flying club. They are absolutely one of the cheapest ways to fly. You are only paying for the cost of ownership because noboday makes a profit. At my club, our rates are typically 10-20% below those of any FBO. Many clubs also have their own instructors.
One thing you can do to find a less expensive location for flight training is to go somewhere that has a low cost of living. If the FBO has lower overhead, his rates should be lower than if the FBO is located at a busy GA airport in a large metropolitan area. Living expenses during training should be lower, too.
I'd inquire about insurance too. If an FBO's policy covers the renter/student pilot for hull damage, the extra cost may be worth it. Even if the FBO has hull coverage, the insurer may go after the renter pilot to recover the cost (subrogate).
Also look at their general pricing policies. Some FBOs will nickle & dime you to death. The FBO I used the most rarely charged more than the Hobbs time for the instructor, while another FBO I occasionally used always put extra time in for pre & post-flight briefing, even when the discussion was minimal. Some charge for cancellations no matter what. Others even charge for ground time when you go on a cross country.
Good comment in another post on flying clubs.
Good luck & I hope your friend enjoys the training, wherever they end up.
2. At first I mis-read your post and thought you were looking for a full-service flight school. I would have recommended Comair, Phoenix East, Flight Safety, etc in FL and North American in SC where they offer courses and housing. However, I see you said that your friend has his European Commercial (you didn’t say which country).
3. Stay away from advertised “too good to be true” offers like Ari-Ben, etc.
4. Your friend will need to stop at a FSDO office to get a US Private Pilot certificate based on his European ratings – unfortunately he/she will have to take a check ride for more advanced ratings if needed.
5. You are going to have to use some shoe leather shopping for bargains. One suggestion is to look at smaller fields in the NC/SC area. Housing is cheap. Fuel is cheap. I’ve seen flyers on a lot of bulletin boards for a twin at Winston Salem at Triad Air. If your friend just needs Total Hours (like a lot of Europeans), look for an FBO with a C-152 – small, slow and cheap! For example, I know of a guy in VA who has two C-152’s in sort of a flying club – I’m not saying anything on the web here because his operation is basically a flim-flam but the planes are fine and the price is cheap. Like I said, shoe leather and asking questions around smaller airports will yield results.
6. And on conventional Flying Clubs that you see around airports – I really think that they wouldn’t appreciate someone coming over, joining the club for two months, flying 200-300 hours off the plane and then leaving for home.
Dana, I have a friend who's on this site all the time, he told me about you and your friend... My name is John R. Frullo, i'm from Las Vegas, NV. U.S.A. My Dad is the owner of Silverwing Aviation here in N.Las Vegas, NV. (VGT) He and I run the show, We have 4 Cessna 150/150's and a Cessna 172, These aircraft all have 150hp. Lycoming 0-320 engines in them, and they fly great (even in the heat of the summer). We are the best deal in town, 3 of the Cessna 150/150's are basic VFR at a rate of $48.00hr wet, 1 Cessna 150/150 with STOL kit,Long range tanks, is full IFR (King Stack) $53.00hr wet, the Cessna 172 is $65.00hr. we can and will offer "BLOCK TIME". These aircraft are all up to date, in annual, (including 100hr). We have an A&P mechanic and an I.A. here everyday. Our I.A. is a 27yr Delta mechanic and he owns the 172. The weather here is the best your going to find anywhere, flying days are 350 per year(on average). The food here in Vegas is the "BEST" you will ever find and the housing is affordable. We have many people from abroad who stay at the "Hostle", or stay at one of the thousands of rooms here in Vegas (and in this day and time, would be extreemly cheap due to "lack of tourism"). This is a 24hr town, and whatever you need is right here. E-Mail me, and i will send you more information, and pictures of our operation. We are NOT a school. We rent aircraft... We do however have 20 independent instructors on hand, and at a minimum of 5 FAA designated examiners available. Our aircraft are insured. If your ready to have fun, you need to check us out. Thank you, John R. Frullo-Silverwing Aviation-Las Vegas-USA-(702)-647-2277
Las Vegas, I really wouldn't suggest Las Vegas those are pretty good prices for planes but the area is pretty bad, a descent apartment is rather expensive there compared to some of the other areas that I have lived in. One advantages about that area that is a rather large amount of low wage jobs available.
Just my observations from living there for two years, it was some of the best two years of my life but overall it was rather expensive and I don't gamble or drink.
Shawn... Most people i've seen(in this business) want to fly. (1) We have the best weather. (2) We have the best prices. (3) We have that BIG airspace...Class"B". (4) We have mountains(mountain training). (5) We have entertainment out the kazoo (for when your not flying), and if you don't drink/gamble you have it made. (6) I would be willing to say that compared to other big citys, Las vegas'(housing/food) prices are by far cheaper than...lets say Atlanta/Chicago/New York/Los Angeles/Dallas/Denver etc... The summers are hot, but not miserable like Atlanta/Dallas/Denver, and the winters are... well .... it was low 70's today and the wind was variable at 4. Chicago/New York/Denver, probably have snow, and the weather that goes with it. I've lived in many area's of this great country and must say that "Vegas" is where i'm staying... Too hot and humid in Dallas/Okc area for me. And about the local jobs and low wage...? Why would someone from Europe want a job here? I thought they wanted to fly, and maybe have a lot of fun... I must disagree with you this day. But everyone has an opinion. John Frullo