Learn to Fly
What type of pilot do you want to be?
Yes, you have options. If you want to fly by yourself or with one other person during daylight hours, then a recreational pilot certificate may be the thing for you. Recreational pilots tend to fly more as a hobby than for traveling. They have some limitations, therefore they require less training, which means less cost to get started flying. Also, if you are looking for a stepping-stone to full pilot privileges, then recreational pilot is an excellent way to get started flying.
If you want to fly anywhere, anytime, with more passengers, limited only by weather, then a private pilot certificate is what you need. Private pilots require more training to have more privileges. See the descriptions below, and be sure to check out the FAQ page for more details.
What is It?
A recreational pilot certificate allows you to fly the same aircraft most private pilots fly, but with some limitations. You can only carry one passenger and can only fly in the daytime. Without additional training, you are limited in the distance you can fly and the types of airports you can fly to. You will also need to pass a medical exam. If you're interested, check the FAQ page for more info. Later on, if you want to upgrade to private pilot status, all the training you have accomplished counts towards your private pilot certificate.
Regulations require a minimum of 30 hours of flight time which includes at least 15 hours of flight instruction and 3 hours of solo flight. Usually when the FAA sets a minimum time, it isn’t very realistic, so in this case I think 30-40 hours is reasonable. With lessons twice a week the average person could complete their flight training in the 30-40 hour range in about 3-4 months.
Using an airplane rental rate of $75 per hour, and an instructional rate of $40 per hour, here is how much a recreational pilot certificate could cost.
What is It?
A private pilot certificate allows you to fly any airplane, for which you are appropriately rated, anywhere you want to go, day or night. As long as you can pass an FAA medical exam, you're in business.
Regulations require a minimum of 40 hours of flight time which includes at least 20 hours of flight instruction and 10 hours of solo flight. However, the reality is the average person takes 55-65 hours to earn a private pilot certificate. I recommend flying 2 times per week. At this pace the average person could finish their flight training in the 55-65 hour range in about 6-8 months.
The single biggest, and the most variable cost, is the airplane. In Yakima you can rent one for a rate of $60 - $100 per hour. I'll use $75 per hour for the airplane and $40 per hour for instruction as an example of how much a private pilot certificate could cost.