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View Full Version : If you had $8,000 USD to burn?



HondaCop
08-30-2010, 06:40 PM
Hi guys, I was just wondering the other day, if it would be better to just get a Private Pilot's license or invest that money into a well built home cockpit.

My question is...

If you had $8,000 USD (which is in average what it would cost for a PPL in the US) burning a hole in your pocket, what would you do?

1. Invest it all into a home cockpit
2. Get real-life lessons and obtain your PPL

I would like to see what sort of debate this stirs as far as pros and cons for each option.

Personally, I am more inclined towards option 1.

Neil Hewitt
08-30-2010, 06:51 PM
Well, while getting your PPL would of course be awesome, you'd be stuck with the fact that once you'd spent the $8K and obtained it, you'd be out of money to actually do any more flying. Whereas if you'd spend it on a decent sim, you could get as much flight time in as you'd like.

Obviously real flight is better than simulated flight - mostly, at least - but if I had to make the absolute choice as to one or the other I'd go for simulated flight. Personally, I have nowhere near enough capital to be able to own or even rent a plane of any kind. I can afford to spend a few £K on a sim, though. Let's face it, private flight is a pretty expensive business - certainly much more so than owning and running a car.

I suspect a few here would be able to have their cake and eat it - either flying for a living or being able to get in private flying time, alongside building a sim.

I'd quite like to own a full-on, Level D airliner sim. If I had the enormous space to house it, the several million to buy it, and the hundreds of thousands more to operate it, I'd probably do that ;)

NH

HondaCop
08-30-2010, 06:56 PM
Well, while getting your PPL would of course be awesome, you'd be stuck with the fact that once you'd spent the $8K and obtained it, you'd be out of money to actually do any more flying. Whereas if you'd spend it on a decent sim, you could get as much flight time in as you'd like.

Obviously real flight is better than simulated flight - mostly, at least - but if I had to make the absolute choice as to one or the other I'd go for simulated flight. Personally, I have nowhere near enough capital to be able to own or even rent a plane of any kind. I can afford to spend a few £K on a sim, though. Let's face it, private flight is a pretty expensive business - certainly much more so than owning and running a car.

I suspect a few here would be able to have their cake and eat it - either flying for a living or being able to get in private flying time, alongside building a sim.

I'd quite like to own a full-on, Level D airliner sim. If I had the enormous space to house it, the several million to buy it, and the hundreds of thousands more to operate it, I'd probably do that ;)

NH

Hi NH, yes, I tend to think like you. I have asked this question myself a ton of times and I always end up saying the same thing you just said. With a home cockpit, you get to fly anytime and without the added expense of perhaps renting a plane, fueling, FBO fees, etc etc.

jskibo
08-30-2010, 07:55 PM
I got the PPL back in college (a few $$ cheaper back then), but doing both now, finishing up my instrument and building a sim. If I had to choose, I would choose real world flying. I enjoy it much more and in the end I want to get my CFI and CFII so I can instruct part time when I'm finally retired (though with 6 kids that doesn't seem like it will ever happen) :)

HondaCop
08-30-2010, 07:59 PM
(though with 6 kids that doesn't seem like it will ever happen)

LOL

The department I work for, does have an Aviation Unit, with a couple of Cessna 172s and a Cessna 182 I believe. If I can put in for it and get chosen, the department pays for EVERYTHING up to the Commercial Pilot's License and Instrument rating... Now that would be awesome and save me a TON!

737NUT
08-31-2010, 12:26 PM
I have my PPL and have also built a couple of sims. It is doable on a modest income but sacrifices must be made on the sim. You can't beat the real deal! Get your PPL and build a less complicated sim to fly on the down days. You won't regret it! It cost me 6K for my PPL. Join a flying clib for a much cheaper flying cost than renting from an FBO.
Rob

wledzian
08-31-2010, 03:28 PM
If you want your PPL and can scrape up the money without hurting your family, then DO IT! You won't regret it.

Some advice from my own experience:
Build enough of a simulator to allow you to practice your procedures. The sim doesn't need to be a perfect replica, as chances are good that you won't train exclusively in a single aircraft, and each aircraft is a little different.

Even if your "switches" are nothing more than labeled binder clips on a drawer edge, use them.

Practice your procedures and navigation as if you were really flying. Use a real paper map.

Practice your communication, even though you don't get a real response.

When you've got a cross-country flight coming up, practice it beforehand. You may be surprised at the sudden overload of things to do at a waypoint; if you've practiced, it won't be so overwhelming. (Tip: Use the lull between waypoints to set up your nav and comm frequencies and heading pips for your next leg)

Practice your straight-in approaches. Trim for approach speed, then forget that the trim wheel even exists. Stay on glideslope with the throttle.

Practice your landing patterns and in-pattern procedures. Don't beat yourself up if your base-to-final turn is a bit off in the sim, that's tough to get right when your view is so limited. Pay more attention to your speeds and power settings, and try to get these bang-on.


When you're actually flying:
If you can, train at an airport that's not too far from a clear-airspace practice area. I spent about half my $time$ flying to and from the practice areas.
If you can't do that, ask your instructor for some under-the-hood instrument navigation training on the way to the practice area.

Keep in mind that the sim will not handle exactly like the real thing, and will most definitely not feel like the real thing.

Do your scan, but don't bury yourself in the cockpit. VFR navigation often references real-world landmarks, there's real traffic sometimes flown by other inexperienced pilots, and too much focus on the panel can induce vertigo.

Your sense of balance will lie to you. Trust your instruments.
Real instruments can fail. Constantly cross-check.

Remember, WHEN things get hairy, do the following, IN THIS ORDER:
Aviate (fly the plane - get it under control and keep it under control)
Navigate (return to your intended airspeed, altitude, heading)
Communicate (Talk to controllers, other traffic, passengers)


I'm sure I've missed a lot.
Best of luck to you!

WJH308
08-23-2012, 02:05 PM
All good advice, I have my Commercial SEL, and MEL with instrument ratings. Also my CFI, CFII, and MEI. One checkride away from my ATP.
I went to ATP when they had a sale going on back in 2007. Don't regret it but it was not easy for some one who dedicated most of their life to aviation.
Worked as a flight instructor for 2 years, 6 days a week to the point of mental exhaustion then went to a part 135 operator flying in a single pilot IFR environment.
I now have an interview for a Fed Ex feeder operator flying a 208B Grand cargo master.
Flight sim or the real thing? At this point, if the flying was not a source of income, I would be perfectly happy having a really kick *** home cockpit, and once in a while renting a C172 to fly for fun.

I say you need to do both. Don't sink a lot of money into the sim yet, do it slowly. The PPL however, I say you save up to 10,000$ and finish it quickly as possible. Don't do it here and there, that will end up costing you more money, especially if your CFI goes off to the airlines.
Like I said though, at this point in the game, I have to do aviation for the paycheck. I play Flight sim to keep my instrument skills sharp. The simulator is much better than the real thing for training in instruments.
Oh and one more thing, if you don't want to die, also get your instrument rating RIGHT AFTER you finish the PPL. They should really be taught together.

blueskydriver
08-23-2012, 03:47 PM
Actually, I believe you need to think outside the box. Take the $8K get the PPL and rent a plane to fly to different homes of guys who have sims. Almost everyone would let you fly it or with them for free. You would have the real pilot skills over those who didn't get a PPL or other type license, and here is the kicker, most guys who have sims are flying alone. You can bet bottom dollar they'd be happen to fly with you!

Heck, here I go giving good ideas, you could be paid money from the Sim Only guys to just visit them and help them learn, as well as be a co-pilot. Imagine you bouncing all around to spend a few hours here or there to do that. I know I would pay...uh, donate to your cause...

Wouldn't it be a neat idea to have a registry of homecockpit owners who would be willing to do something like that?

BSD

WJH308
08-23-2012, 04:05 PM
? Well I could be doing that right now, anyone in California that wants me to visit them and their home cockpit setup?
Plane rental costs 125$ an hour, you'll have to split the cost with me going both ways to keep it legal. Some schools have a minimum rental rate of 4 hours a day..
Oh and I can sit next to you with my real skills for you to find out that my real pilot skills that I get outside the home cockpit do not translate to inside the home cockpit. Oh and since I am a flight instructor, if you want me to teach you instruments, thats another 50$ an hour on top of the other costs, since VFR PPL flying really needs to be done in the real airplane and not the simulator, you'll get no benefit from the sim until you need to actually practice VOR's and NDB's.
So with that said, we could fly the real airplane for your flight lessons, at which time you would be spending 125$ an hour for the airplane and another 50$ an hour for me. You'll need to be a US citizen and I will need to make copies of your ID and what not thanks to TSA.

CessnaGuy
08-23-2012, 04:45 PM
Flying does get cheaper once you have got your PPL, remember you are paying for someone to teach you to fly as well as renting the club or school aircraft.

Ways of getting in the air once you have your PPL is:

1)Rent an aircraft at the hourly rate.

2)Go halves on the rental with another pilot so that the hourly rate is halved for you. You can each log half the flight on your log book each.

3)Buy a share of an aircraft for cheaper flying

4)Learn to be a CFI so that you can be paid to flight.

If the PPL is still out of reach, pick yourself up a cheap headset from ebay and put ads in local flying clubs that you are looking to 'take any spare right seats' and contribute to fuel costs. I have been doing this recently and have had some great flights so far! There are some very generous folk out there that will happily take you up in return for great aviation banter and the odd bit of 'skivvy work'.

You could also fly microlights (my favourite) or fly gliders, both are just as challenging and rewarding. Gliding is very cheap and is a great way to get in the air.

Nothing beats real flying, because my eyes hurt looking at a computer screen all day!

If you can afford it, go for it! You wont regret it!

CessnaGuy
08-26-2012, 06:01 AM
Forgot to add: In the US you can get your PPL for £5000, here in the UK, we pay on average another £2k more for the same thing (and you have better weather). So for £5k for a PPL I would go for it! You'd be bonkers not to!

scott1976
09-05-2012, 08:34 PM
Hi folks, saw this post and just had to comment. Two year ago I had some money burning a hole in my pocket and I was also debating whether or not I should get a PPL or build a simulator. I took a trip to Coventry for my first home cockpit flight in John Davies 747 simulator (I have a few hours clocked up on PMDG’s 747) as well as talking to my local flying school. PPL courses vary in price, but my school was looking for £10,500 for a PPL and ultimately I could not justify that amount of money or even one or two ££££ less for a piece of paper. A colleague at work suggested microlight flying, which I initially laughed at. I seemed to have it in my head that I needed to be sitting in a cockpit and surrounded by as many instruments as possible. I did however give microlight flying a go, three axis microlights to be exact, so I got the cockpit and a handful of instruments instead. Two years later and at a cost of just under £5000, I now have my nPPL(m) and for a few extra ££££, I own a share in a three axis microlight that cost’s under £1000 a year to keep and £35 an hour to run…including fuel.

I believe that these three axis machines are becoming the future of recreational flying due to their ever increasing performance and low cost. And if you add a further 3 day training course, you can up your nPPL(m) to SSEA (Simple Single Engine Aircraft) giving you more options and certainly keeping up with most light aircraft for the same cost as microlighting. Microlights are very restricted in a number of aspects, but I would suggest that unless you are pursuing a career in aviation or have a lot of money to “continually” burn, there are cheaper ways to really fly, after all an hours flying in any aircraft is still an hours flying and this brings me back on topic…

A wise pilot once told me, getting your license is the easy part, keeping it is another. I believe around 90% of pilots let their license lapse after 2 years or so. It’s probably easy to guess why and brings me onto my point and ultimately the reason why I took up microlight flying as opposed to light aircraft (but not cockpit building…I will get to that). It’s not the cost of getting your license that you need to be concerned with, it’s the cost of keeping it or as I like to think of it, how much air time I get for my buck. Yes you can do the minimal hours (for ease, 12 hours over 2 years) but such low hours can arguably prove dangerous as well as stressful as opposed to enjoyable and who wants to spend all that money only to fly for an hour once every two months? My point is any pilot is really going to spend a few ££££ a year to make it worth their while, hence possibly why 90% give it up.

My last point is that no matter what, simply by it’s nature, flying is inherently dangerous. In the last six months there have been three microlight death’s in my area as well as a handful of accidents (not at my airfield I might add)…I am now asking myself if it is really worth it? Has it really been worth all that money as well as burning an even deeper hole in my pocket for those few moments of enjoyment I get when not thinking about what could go wrong? If at this moment you are about to say “but do you know you are more likely to die whilst…” Don't! You deserve a smack in the mouth. I firmly believe real pilots that think that should have their licenses revoked.

Ultimately I have found that despite real flying, I never lost my passion for flight simulator, actually quite the opposite. So much so I am giving some serious thought to joining that 90% and instead investing in a home cockpit. Ultimately because it’s safer, I get just as much satisfaction from flight sim, it’s just as technical, arguably more, will cost less in the long run and you can go anywhere in the world for a lot less than £35+ an hour, and that really is as cheap as it gets. By the way, how much electricity are you guys burning flying your home cockpits? ;-)


Scott.

WJH308
09-08-2012, 03:18 AM
Hi folks, saw this post and just had to comment. Two year ago I had some money burning a hole in my pocket and I was also debating whether or not I should get a PPL or build a simulator. I took a trip to Coventry for my first home cockpit flight in John Davies 747 simulator (I have a few hours clocked up on PMDG’s 747) as well as talking to my local flying school. PPL courses vary in price, but my school was looking for £10,500 for a PPL and ultimately I could not justify that amount of money or even one or two ££££ less for a piece of paper. A colleague at work suggested microlight flying, which I initially laughed at. I seemed to have it in my head that I needed to be sitting in a cockpit and surrounded by as many instruments as possible. I did however give microlight flying a go, three axis microlights to be exact, so I got the cockpit and a handful of instruments instead. Two years later and at a cost of just under £5000, I now have my nPPL(m) and for a few extra ££££, I own a share in a three axis microlight that cost’s under £1000 a year to keep and £35 an hour to run…including fuel.

I believe that these three axis machines are becoming the future of recreational flying due to their ever increasing performance and low cost. And if you add a further 3 day training course, you can up your nPPL(m) to SSEA (Simple Single Engine Aircraft) giving you more options and certainly keeping up with most light aircraft for the same cost as microlighting. Microlights are very restricted in a number of aspects, but I would suggest that unless you are pursuing a career in aviation or have a lot of money to “continually” burn, there are cheaper ways to really fly, after all an hours flying in any aircraft is still an hours flying and this brings me back on topic…

A wise pilot once told me, getting your license is the easy part, keeping it is another. I believe around 90% of pilots let their license lapse after 2 years or so. It’s probably easy to guess why and brings me onto my point and ultimately the reason why I took up microlight flying as opposed to light aircraft (but not cockpit building…I will get to that). It’s not the cost of getting your license that you need to be concerned with, it’s the cost of keeping it or as I like to think of it, how much air time I get for my buck. Yes you can do the minimal hours (for ease, 12 hours over 2 years) but such low hours can arguably prove dangerous as well as stressful as opposed to enjoyable and who wants to spend all that money only to fly for an hour once every two months? My point is any pilot is really going to spend a few ££££ a year to make it worth their while, hence possibly why 90% give it up.

My last point is that no matter what, simply by it’s nature, flying is inherently dangerous. In the last six months there have been three microlight death’s in my area as well as a handful of accidents (not at my airfield I might add)…I am now asking myself if it is really worth it? Has it really been worth all that money as well as burning an even deeper hole in my pocket for those few moments of enjoyment I get when not thinking about what could go wrong? If at this moment you are about to say “but do you know you are more likely to die whilst…” Don't! You deserve a smack in the mouth. I firmly believe real pilots that think that should have their licenses revoked.

Ultimately I have found that despite real flying, I never lost my passion for flight simulator, actually quite the opposite. So much so I am giving some serious thought to joining that 90% and instead investing in a home cockpit. Ultimately because it’s safer, I get just as much satisfaction from flight sim, it’s just as technical, arguably more, will cost less in the long run and you can go anywhere in the world for a lot less than £35+ an hour, and that really is as cheap as it gets. By the way, how much electricity are you guys burning flying your home cockpits? ;-)


Scott.

Regulations in the USA are much different than Britain. USA, our pilots licenses never expire. If you want to fly however you need certain proficiency of flight. Every two years you need a bi annual flight review with a CFI. Instrument rating can expire and that is the hard one to keep unless your a CFII and your buddies who are CFII's as well can give each other IPC's.
Having done piloting as a profession in the USA, I have to say the hardest part is not running out of luck. Currently no commercial operator will hire me because my last check ride was a failed part 135 currency check. Just went to an interview for a company that flies Caravans, they wouldn't hire me, never mind that I aced the knowledge exam and flew the sim evaluation better than anyone else ever. Never mind that I am over qualified and can do the job...
Your current job is only until the next check ride or medical. Not only can you lose your current job, but make it next to impossible to get hired down the road.
Well, I have an interview with Union Pacific Railroad on Monday. Starting pay is more than 2 to 3 times as much as I ever made as a pilot.