Below is a recent letter from a young man named Joel Thomas. Joel earned his pilot
certificate at a very low cost using many of the recommendations I've made over the years. Yes, it's entirely possible to earn a pilot certificate at 50% of the cost you'll pay at major pilot centers. Perhaps the single most important aspect of this is finding a good instructor. Here are Joel's own words about how he did it.
LETTER FROM JOEL THOMAS
"I just read your article in AOPA Pilot magazine (titled "Budget Buy"), in which you discussed learning to fly on a budget, and going to school on a budget. I've been following you for years, and you were saying the same thing back then, too. I read a ton of your stuff, and used Microsoft FSX well before I even took lessons.
It took me a long time to find an instructor that I liked, and didn't suck all the money out of my bank, but when I did I was committed. I drove an hour each way for my flying lessons, for 16 months, and the plane was an old Cessna 150 that was far short of pretty. When it was all said and done with 53 hours in my log book, I paid just over $6,200 for ALL of my flight costs, including the gas to drive to the airport. And yes, I paid for every bit of everything out of my pocket at age 17.... I worked on the farm, and every dollar I made got me another flight lesson.
My point in telling you my story, is that you are so right...if there is a will there is a way. I now beat the same drum you do.
I see so many kids going to school and coming out with thousands and thousands of dollars in debt. Our culture today tells young people that the only way to make it is to go deep into debt and hope you make enough to pay off that loan monster. I had people kinda make fun of me because I was flying an old plane that was far from sophisticated. But, I came out debt free, and I plan to do the same thing with my IA rating, and hopefully my CFI.
Anyways, Rod, thank you for your article, and I wanted to tell you that I agree 100% with you, and I've been saying the same thing for several years and will continue to...yes, it can be done!!"