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No one wants to pay too much for a product or service, and it's certainly no different with learning to fly. Learning to fly involves some expense, but it's important to keep the cost in perspective. The extent and depth of the training you will receive for your money makes learning to fly one of the all-time great bargains compared to many other recreational or business pursuits. For a few thousand dollars you will acquire the basic skills needed to safely enjoy an extraordinary and unique activity for years to come.

As with many things, in the long run value turns out to be more important than the bottom-line cost of your flight training. You should be concerned with what you are getting for your money, not just how much you'll spend. Value is measured by the quality of the training, and the relationship that develops between you and your instructor and flight school. The cheapest isn't always the best.

When researching cost, be sure to ask about all the expenses associated with training: instructor time, including preflight and post-flight briefings; aircraft rental by the hour; ground; materials and supplies such as texts, charts, a plotter, headset, even a flight bag to carry it all; the required written test; and the oral exam and check ride administered by an examiner. Many schools offer various financial arrangements such as monthly billing of flight and instructor time, and discounted block time purchasing. For example, if you pay $1000 up front for a portion of your training, the school may give you ,100 of instruction and aircraft rental time. Most also accept credit card payment for lessons.

Some schools, and most ab initio career-training academies, charge an all-inclusive price covering flight and ground training for all certificates and ratings in the program. Look carefully at these deals. A seemingly low package price may cover only the minimum instructional flight hours required in the regulations. Since most people take longer, you could end up spending considerably more. Also check on the school's refund policy in the event you must withdraw for whatever reason.

If cost is a critical concern, make it a priority on your school shopping list, but don't lose sight of the importance of value.

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