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Home > Blog > How Expensive Is It To Fly As A Hobby

How expensive is it to fly as a hobby?

Posted 20 Sep 2022

How expensive is it to fly as a hobby?

There are few hobbies as rewarding and thrilling as flying. Not only does it make for an experience to remember, but it also gives you major bragging points! After all, how many people can claim that they know how to fly an aeroplane?

There are few hobbies as rewarding and thrilling as flying. Not only does it make for an experience to remember, but it also gives you major bragging points! After all, how many people can claim that they know how to fly an aeroplane?

While being able to take to the skies in their own aeroplanes is a dream for many, it is true that this passion does not come cheap. Nonetheless, when it comes to the amazing benefits of having flying as a hobby, the costs really don’t seem as bad.

However, as a beginner, it is important for you to understand what you are getting yourself into. Flying requires commitment, both your time as well as of your finances.

It is necessary that you be aware of these investments before you commit since you don’t want to come out on the other side regretting your decision or leaving training mid-way because you haven’t been able to shoulder the costs.

Flying is a rare hobby and compared to football or hiking, it will not come cheap. Regardless, it must be understood that there are ways to make flying more accessible so that more people can enjoy it.

If you go into it with a plan and a healthy idea of what to expect, you won’t be left reeling when it comes time to pay the bills. So, read on to find out what are the financial requirements of flying as a hobby and how you can manage them (and, in fact, even cut costs!) easily.



 For anyone who is looking to become a pilot, the first order of business is to sign up for training so that you can work towards attaining your pilot licence.

No one is allowed to fly without a valid licence, and just like you would be required to prove that you are fit to drive before hopping into the driver’s seat, your flying skills will be tested before you are allowed to take off on your own. Not all training institutions and techniques are made equal. It is important to understand what factors will affect the cost of training, and this in turn will determine which type of training is best for you.


Variables involved in determining the cost


What aircraft is being flown?

There are many different types of aeroplanes out there. The light aircraft is the aeroplane of choice for beginners due to the fact that it is easy to manoeuvre. Light aircraft normally have a single engine.

As opposed to this, multi-engine aircraft will have two or more engines. These are faster and more powerful compared to the single-engine variety. It can also carry more weight thanks to the added power of the second engine. It is generally more expensive to fly these aeroplanes. However, most training institutions opt for single-engine aeroplanes because they are industry standard.

 The model of the light aircraft will also matter when it comes to how expensive the training will be. Those training on newer models will generally come with a higher price tag.


Licence type

The type of licence you are aspiring toward will also determine how expensive training is for you. This is mainly because different licences have different flight hour requirements.

While a Private Pilot Licence (PPL) requires a total of 45 hours of flying, the Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) requires 200. If you are a hobbyist, you probably won’t be opting for the CPL. However, even within the general aviation licence category, the PPL is more expensive to obtain as opposed to the Light Aircraft Pilot Licence (LAPL), which only has a 12-hour flight requirement.

Differences in flight schools

Flight school fees can vary from one school to another. Training facilities within aeroclubs are usually subsidised for members. Where you train can impact how much money you end up spending. If a flight school is in an exotic location and offers additional perks, it may be more expensive. The more advanced the facilities, the more expensive the school.


Cost of textbooks and learning manuals

Not only will you have to log in your flight hours and clear a practical test, but you will also be required to pass a series of nine theoretical exams with at least 75% marks. Subjects on the Private Pilot Licence (PPL) theoretical exam include Meteorology, Air Law, Navigation, and Principles of Flight.

 These subjects will require you to purchase some textbooks, which can end up costing a little bit of money. You will also be required to go through various manuals when it comes to clearing your Flight Radio Telephony Operator Licence Exam for the FRTOL, as well as for various other ratings such as the Instrument Rating.

Mode of instruction

When it comes to flight training, there are two main types. One that takes place under modular instruction and one that takes place under integrated instruction. Integrated instruction is relatively cheaper.

This is mainly because, in modular training, the pilot trains according to their own schedule. It is flexible and perfect for those aspiring pilots who have day jobs or other commitments such as school. On the other hand, integrated training is like any other course, where the pilot dedicates a certain amount of time to training and completes it over the course of a few weeks.

 These timings are set, and the lack of flexibility makes it generally less expensive.  



Now that you have your training done, you will need to look at what the costs are when it comes to maintaining a hobby in aviation. There are some things that you should be aware of before you take the plunge, such as the cost of aeroplanes and the forms of ownership, as well as the cost related to maintenance and upkeep.


Aeroplane ownership

When it comes to flying, the question on the minds of most beginners is how they will eventually end up owning an aeroplane, or whether this is even a possibility. You should be pleased to know that your dream of owning an aeroplane really isn’t all that farfetched! It is perfectly possible, given a little planning and consideration of which type of ownership is best for you.


Private ownership

If you are someone who plans to fly regularly and cannot accommodate the kind of sharing required when it comes to fractional ownership, a private aeroplane may be the only way for you to go.

This is the most expensive option when it comes to aeroplane ownership, but you will not have this level of freedom with shared ownership or a rental. If this is an expense that you can manage, then you should definitely opt for your own private aircraft.

You can purchase an aircraft brand new or one that is being resold. Just make sure when buying a second-hand aeroplane that there is a valid certificate of airworthiness accompanying it so you know it has been well-maintained and is worth the investment!

Fractional ownership

For those of you who either do not have the funds to buy a private aeroplane, do not use an aeroplane as frequently, or do not want to be bothered with the hassle of upkeep all on your own, the fractional ownership method may be best suited to you.

In fractional ownership, a pilot buys a share in the aircraft, as opposed to buying the entire aircraft. You can buy more than one share, depending on how often you wish to use the aeroplane and how much money you are willing to invest.

Each shareholder gets a certain number of hours on the aeroplane, and those with more than one share can claim more hours. However, keep in mind that the cost of maintenance that you have taken responsibility for will also increase.

Fractional ownership works wonderfully well for hobbyists since they do not fly as often given that most have different day jobs. It is a good idea to split the cost and responsibility while enjoying all the perks of a private aeroplane!



An aeroplane, much like a car, needs fuel to operate. This is a necessary expense that no recreational flyer can avoid. Keep in mind what the fuel prices are in the region that you reside and take note of the fuel prices in the areas you plan to frequently fly to.

 It is a good idea to have an understanding of the fuel costs in the area, as well as the fuel demands of your aeroplane so that you can sufficiently budget how much money you will be spending on filling up your aeroplane’s tank.  


Aeroplane upkeep

You will have to ensure that your aeroplane is maintained and kept up to date with servicing. Maintaining your aircraft’s airworthiness is necessary in order to be able to fly.

Airworthiness is a measure of whether or not your aircraft is fit to take to the skies without becoming a cause for danger for either you or those who are on the ground. It is dangerous and illegal to fly an aircraft that has not been deemed airworthy.

You will have to schedule checks and maintenance in accordance with the aircraft’s servicing manual.


Licencing cost

 In addition to the cost of training, there is a fee associated with the licence application. In order to get the Private Pilot Licence, you will have to pay the Civil Aviation Authority a set licencing fee as well as an exam fee. You will also be charged a small amount at the time of licence renewal.


Pilot medicals

 In order to be eligible for the Private Pilot Licence, the applicant must have a Class 2 medical certificate, which is issued after you clear a thorough medical exam by a licenced medical examiner. 




Shared ownership

 As outlined above, shared ownership is a great way to cut costs (and stress!) when it comes to owning an aeroplane. Not only is the initial cost of the aircraft divided amongst the shareholders, but the cost and responsibility of fuel and maintenance are also divided according to the size of the share and the amount of use.


Regular maintenance

This one is pretty straightforward. If you nip a problem in the bud, it won’t snowball into a massive issue that may end up costing you a large sum of money. It’s always a good idea to get your aircraft checked out by a licenced engineer if you ever feel that anything is amiss.

If you have your aircraft serviced regularly, the chances of the engineer fixing an issue before it even comes to your notice will mean absolute smooth sailing (or flying!). 


Start small

Don’t make a large investment that you can’t keep up with. Start with rental aircraft, move up to shares, and then make your way to full private ownership. The same step-by-step method applies to pilot licences. Don’t go all in and opt for Commercial Pilot Licence training. That will cost you more due to the higher number of hours required.

Instead, start with a Light Aircraft Pilot Licence (LAPL) and if you find yourself loving aviation, upgrade to a Private Pilot Licence (PPL) and then finally a CPL if you wish to pursue it professionally.


Plan your flights carefully

 You’ll be surprised at how much fuel you can save if you only plan ahead! Always make sure to study routes before take-off so that you know the shortest (and safest) distances. This will end up saving you a lot of money in fuel since you won’t be going around in circles.

It’s always good to know the rates of fuel in the different areas that you are flying to so that if your destination has very pricey fuel, you can always fill your tank from home or make a pitstop at a cheaper airfield along the way.


Join a flying club

 A community of pilots who are ready to help you sort out any issue you may be having! No expensive consultants are needed. A flying club can be a great way to save money as a pilot!



 Sherburn Aero Club, which has been operational since 1964, is the ideal place for most of your training and flying needs.

It is one of the largest flying clubs in the North of England and also one of the largest in the country. With a large fleet of new aircraft and an airfield refurbishment with new runways, hangars, and an extended clubhouse, we cater to brand new flyers who have just started their journey to the skies, as well as seasoned flyers who have been operating aircraft for decades.

If you wish to begin your career in aviation or wish to take to the skies as a hobby, Sherburn’s flight training school offers private and commercial licenses, along with pilot medicals to ensure a smooth journey going forward.

Sherburn also offers a dedicated day-long Flight Radiotelephony Operator’s Licence (FRTOL) course for those wishing to get the certification, running the first Sunday of every month.

For those who wish to experience the thrill of a flight for fun or to help fuel their aviation dreams, Sherburn offers experience flights for the newbie, as well as the veteran.

The flight experience option is also available for people who wish to take to the skies for special occasions, even if they aren’t into aviation for the long run.

In addition to that, if you are looking for a hangarage for your own aircraft, need servicing or repairs, want to buy a new aircraft or aviation equipment, or are just looking to enjoy and watch the aircraft, Sherburn Aero Club is the place to be.

Call us on 01977 682 674​​​, email us at flightdesk@sherburnaeroclub.com, or message us via our online contact form for more information on recreational flying, the Private Pilot Licence, as well as the training facilities, fleet, and airfield available at Sherburn.



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