Going IFR

So now that I finished up my quest for the private pilot’s license, the next step is to get my instrument rating. The instrument rating allows pilots to legally fly in all kinds of weather conditions, but more importantly, pilots with instrument certification tend to be much safer pilots.

After spending nearly three years training for my private at a local outfit, I concluded that there is simply no way I can train locally on the weekends for IFR training. My best bet for success is to use an accelerated course, consisting of 10+ days of intense training.

The perquisites for attending such training are:

  • Completed FAA Written IFR Exam
  • 45 hours cross country PIC

The written IFR exam is much harder than the written private exam. So it will take a few months of intensive studying/DVD training for me to get to the point where I could do well on the IFR written. The total cost may be $500.

The 45 hours cross country PIC is definitely an expensive requirement for a new private pilot. I may need about 35 additional hours. In a Cessna 172 that’s about $5000. In a 152 its only $3100. It might make sense to spend a few hundred getting checked out in a Cessna 152 to build a bunch of cross country time and save a bit of money..

The programs for IFR typically run around $6000-8000, so assuming $7000 is a safe bet, then its time to figure out accommodations and expenses. Flying to a warm destination like Arizona, spending 11 nights in a hotel, and you need to eat too. I’m guessing $200/day for hotel/food, and maybe $1000 for travel expenses.

Adding it all up:

  • $500 written prep/test
  • $5000 35 hours Cross Country PIC time
  • $7000 11 Day IFR program
  • $2200 Hotel/Food
  • $1000 airfare/car rental
  • $400 IFR checkride

Total: $16,100

Now I might be able to get that down to $14,000 by flying a 152, getting a good deal on a motel, and eating crappy food every night, but its still a lot of money.

No wonder why there are so many broke pilots out there. On the bright side, an IFR certification is something that lasts a lifetime, and it significantly reduces the risks associated with a low time pilot. After all, over 80% of general aviation accidents are due to pilot error.

I would rather be a safe broke pilot, than a dead dumb pilot.

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