Frequently Asked Questions

There are a lot of variables that affect the cost of learning to fly. The frequency of your flight lessons, weather conditions, the type of aircraft in which you are training in and its availability for scheduling, as well as an individual’s aptitude will all play a role in the time it takes to gain a pilot certificate.

Learning to fly is not like taking a college course that you attend 3 times per week for 14 weeks, but is rather more like learning to play an instrument like the guitar or the piano. Each person learns at his or her own pace as dictated by experience, aptitude and work ethic.

While, the FAA regulates a minimum of 40 hours of flight time (at least 30 hours with an FAA licensed instructor and 10 hours of solo time) to earn a pilot certificate, it general takes longer than these minimums.

The national average time for completion of the private pilot certificate is about 70 hours. At Purdue Aviation our students typically finish in approximately 50-55 hours. By the time you have logged approximately 20 hours of flight instruction; your instructor can usually give you an extremely accurate estimation of time and cost remaining to finish up. The figures below are estimates:

Cessna 152 Two Seat Economy Trainer
(Limited to personal weight of 180 lbs or less)
45 Hours of Dual Instruction $1980.00 ($44.00 per hour)
55 Hours Aircraft Rental $5390.00 ($98.00 per hour)
20 Hours Pre/Post Flight Briefing $880.00 ($44.00 per hour)
Head Set $150.00
Books and Materials $344.00
Medical Exam $100.00
Written Exam $150.00
Flight Exam $400.00
TOTAL $9,394.00 plus tax
Cessna 172 Four Seat Trainer
45 Hours of Dual Instruction $1980.00 ($44.00 per hour)
55 Hours Aircraft Rental $6325.00 ($115.00 per hour)
20 Hours Pre/Post Flight Briefing $880.00 ($44.00 per hour)
Head Set $150.00
Books and Materials $344.00
Medical Exam $100.00
Written Exam $150.00
Flight Exam $400.00
TOTAL $10,329.00 plus tax


For most people, unless you have the time to commit to an accelerated schedule, it is optimum to fly 3-5 times per week. Fly as often as your schedule allows because any delay in training, regardless of the reason, results in extra training and extra cost to you.

Maintaining a regular schedule for your lessons is one way to stay on track with your program. The longer the delay between lessons the more review will be required for each flight before you move on to new material. While consistency is important, so is flexibility. This is an individualized instructional program, so you can always adjust your schedule -- slowing down if you find yourself getting behind or speeding up by devoting more time each week to instruction.

Being prepared for every lesson is important. Ask your instructor to give you thorough post-lesson recommendations for studying so that you can be fully prepared for the next lesson. Keep up with your self-study ground school lessons. Typically only 20% of the students who are ready to take their flight tests have actually completed the written test, so maintaining a schedule for the ground school and sticking with it is as crucial to staying on track to finish your program as the flight lessons are.

Setting reasonable goals for yourself and making the time commitment each week will help you stay on target to complete your program. Learning to fly should be fun, and being realistic about your schedule and keeping in mind the overall goal of obtaining a pilot certificate will help you avoid burn out. Communicating with your instructor will also help you stay on track.

Come to Purdue Aviation at the Purdue Airport, sign up for lessons and go flying. It is that simple.

Before you can solo, you will need to get a student pilot certificate / 3rd class medical certificate. In order to solo, you must have approximately 10-12 flight lessons or approximately 12-20 hours.

A person must be at least 16 years old to solo and can obtain a private pilot certificate at 17. If you are in good medical condition, there is no reason why you can’t fly until you are 100.

Keeping a pilot certificate current is affordable. For a couple hundred dollars per year, you can stay current and keep your license active.

Your pilot certificate does not have an expiration date and is valid forever as long as you can meet the medical requirements. You must complete a flight review with a CFI once every 2 years which consists of one hour of ground training and one hour flight training. If you wish to carry passengers you simply need to make 3 takeoffs and 3 landings within the preceding 90 days. The same holds true for night flight, 3 takeoffs and 3 landings each 90 days at night if you wish to carry passengers at night.

The physical exam is very simple and non evasive, similar to a sports physical for high school athletes. A physician will check your overall health including a check of your hearing, vision, blood pressure, and a urine test for diabetes.

You are allowed to wear glasses or contact lenses if your vision is correctable to 20/40.

Generally speaking, if you can drive a car, you can usually pass the medical exam without any trouble. If you do happen to take any doctor prescribed medications, you will want to check them against the FAA list of approved drugs and limitations prior to scheduling your appointment.

You can find this information on the FAA’s website, www.faa.gov or AOPA ‘s website, www.aopa.org. You will also find a list of FAA Medical Examiners in your area on the www.faa.gov website.

When you make your appointment for the medical exam, tell the doctor that you need a 3rd class medical for a student private pilot certificate. The 3rd class medical is valid for 60 months for persons under 40. After 40, the medical is good for 24 calendar months.

FAA Medical Doctors near the airport

Dr. Gagandeep Singh Chadha
166 Sagamore Parkway W.
West Lafayette, IN
765-497-2428

Dr. William L. Bray
133 N 4th St. Suite 611
Lafayette, IN
765-586-7852

Before any person may begin flight training in the United States, he/she must comply with the requirements of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

  • U.S. Citizens must provide proof of Citizenship by presenting:
    • Valid/Current U.S. Passport,

      OR
    • Original Birth Certificate AND Government issued photo ID
  • Non-U.S. citizens must complete a background check with the TSA before they can start flight training.
    • The TSA charges $130 for the background check and the process takes two to three weeks to complete.
    • After the TSA has received all of the information required to perform the background check, you will be able to start flying with TSA approval.
    • To complete the background check perform the following steps:
  • Visit www.flightschoolcandidates.gov and create a new account.
  • The TSA will e-mail you a password with which you can log onto the TSA website.
  • Log onto the TSA website and fill out the entire application.
  • You will need information from passports, visas, and/or IDs to complete the application.
  • You will need to fax or scan-in images of passports and/or visas in order to submit the application.
  • You will be asked for some details about the flight training you would like to complete.
  • See the reverse side of this sheet for instructions on how to answer these questions.
  • The TSA will e-mail Purdue Aviation and ask us to verify the information you entered on the website.
  • Once we verify your information, the TSA will e-mail you with instructions on how to pay the $130 application fee and how to submit fingerprint records.
  • You may arrange to be fingerprinted at the Purdue Police Department by calling 765-494-8221.
  • Do not get fingerprinted until the TSA has e-mailed you the fingerprinting instructions.
  • Once the TSA receives the fingerprints, they will e-mail you and indicate that you may begin flight training.

TSA Background Check Instructions

During the application process you will be asked certain questions about the flight training you are pursuing. Below are the appropriate responses to the questions regarding the flight school course, dates, and training aircraft.

Student Category: All our students are Category 3 students. Category 4 ONLY applies to aircraft weighing over 12,500lbs.

Student Number / Student ID Number: This field is not required. Leave it blank.

Course ID: A three letter ID for the course you are taking (it does not have to be exact): PVT, IRA, COM, CFI, etc…

Course Title: Write out the name of the certificate or rating. “Private Pilot,” ”Instrument Rating,” etc…

Course Description: Make it the same as the Course Title

Aircraft Type: Fill in the make and model of aircraft you fly. “Cessna 172,” “Piper Warrior,” “C-172,” “PA28,” etc…

Start Date: Write in the date of your first flight, or the date you intend to start flying.

End Date: Write in a date approximately 2 years from the Start Date (this does not need to be exact)