Learning to fly is not an endeavor restricted to young twenty-something males with eagle-eyed vision and lightning quick reflexes.  That myth was squelched many years ago.  Men and women of all ages, backgrounds and abilities have taken on the challenge and succeeded.  Obtaining a private pilot certificate does require a focused effort and dedication.  It is not equivalent to learning to operate an automobile in the two dimensional environment of humans.  There is a certain amount of “rewiring” of the brain required to comfortably and safely function in the three dimensional avian world.  On top of that you will have to grasp the fundamentals of basic aerodynamics and meteorology tp pass your FAA check ride.

Peruse our FAQ’s for answers to some of the common questions that people have.  If you can not find an answer please phone us (208.344.5401), use the adjacent form to send a message or drop by our facilities for a visit.  We understand the many questions you may have and are happy to sit down and discuss each one to your satisfaction.


How long does it take to get a license?

Well, that depends on you. The FAA requires a minimum of 40 hours of flight training to get a license, but the national average is closer to 70 hours. You’ll have to pass a check ride with the FAA before you can get a license, so it’s a very individual thing. It depends on how often you fly and whether you have an inherent aptitude for the task. We recommend that you fly about twice a week. At that rate, you can expect to be licensed in about six months.

About how much does it cost to get a private pilot’s license?

Again, it depends on how long it takes you, but you can expect to spend somewhere in the range of $7000-10,000. In this business, you get what you pay for, so remember, you need three things to do this safely; good training, good equipment, and good judgment. So when you’re shopping for a place to do your flight training, make sure you are getting all three.

Won’t it cost more learning to fly from Boise’s airport then say Nampa?

In the short run that may be true. However, an advantage of learning to fly out of KBOI’s Class C airspace is that from day one you are working in and part of the Air Traffic Control (ATC) system. With that experience once you have your Private certificate you can comfortably and confidently fly into other large airports or small reliever airports located within “busy” airspace. Flying into Spokane’s major airport or the smaller Felts Field is no different then going in and out of Boise. There are numerous pilots who obtain their primary training from smaller uncontrolled airports that are reluctant, if not anxious, to land at airports under class B, C and D rules. This is very unfortunate and limits the utility of flying yourself. Also, KBOI has some of the most “small” plane friendly controllers around.

What can I do with a private pilot’s license?

Well, once you get your license, you can fly pretty much anywhere you like, for pleasure or business. Distances shrink dramatically once you can fly there. You can fly to McCall for breakfast in less than an hour. You can fly to Arizona in less than a day. You can fly on a sunny Saturday just for the fun of it. You can carry passengers. As a student pilot, you can’t do that. That doesn’t mean you can fly for hire, though. But you can share expenses 50/50 with your passengers. You can fly for business. In other words, if your job requires some travel, and you want to use your piloting skills, your business can reimburse you for the expenses incurred with using an airplane, but it has to be just incidental to doing that business.

What if I want to make flying a career?

Ponderosa has recently become associated with Utah Valley State College and the Global Aviation Degree Program to provide online courses for associate and bachelor's degrees in aviation. And we provide the flight training toward a commercial license. Student financing is available for this program.

It all begins with that private pilot’s license. Then you move on to an instrument rating. That will cost about the same amount as the private license, but will allow you to fly in the clouds. After that, at 250 hours, you can earn a commercial pilot’s license. No, I’m afraid it’s going to take more than that to get hired by United. What can you legally do with a commercial certificate? You can go on to get a flight instructor’s certificate. A lot of airline captains earned experience by teaching others. You can give sightseeing flights if you don’t go over 25 miles from your home airport. You can tow banners or gliders. You can fly parachutists. You can fly power line and pipeline patrol. Not a lot, eh? For the airlines, you’re going to need lots of time and experience to get hired. How you get that is very individual. Flying air taxi (which requires another certificate), freight, instructing, military experience; there’s no one way to get that United job. But it can be done if you really want it.

How does Ponderosa Aero Club work?

We’re a nonprofit organization that exists strictly to provide training and availability of aircraft to its members. A membership costs $255 which includes a $175 annual fee and the first month’s dues of $80. Annual fees for the next four years will be $150/year; after five year’s continuous active membership, annual fees cease. Dues are $80/month, but we give our members a $25 fly back credit to increase member flight proficiency. In other words, if you fly during a specific month, your dues will only be $55. The club aircraft are all owned by club members and leased back to the club. The aircraft are operated at cost, and every dollar earned by an aircraft goes back to that aircraft. The club offices, manager’s salary and general operating expenses of the club are financed strictly from dues and fees.

How do I pay for my flight training?

We use an online scheduler that keeps track of all your flights. At the end of the month, you’ll be e-mailed a statement of all charges made that month. You must pay off that statement by the 15th of the following month. Or you can put money on account and fly that off. A guesstimate of a typical flight lesson would be about 1 hour of flight time (a Cessna 172 goes for $92/hour) and about an hour and a half of the flight instructor’s time (they’re a bargain at $42/hour). The flight instructor is paid the same amount whether he is giving ground or flight instruction. The typical lesson is going to take about two hours of your time. There will be some that take longer. Soon, you’ll have your first solo flight! Few things in life are as exciting as flying your own airplane! Ponderosa can make you the best pilot you can be. You just have to begin...

What are your instructor rates?

Member fees for club instructors are:
Primary training • $42/hr
Advanced ratings, endorsements • $45/hr
Multi-engine • $55/hr
Back country instruction • $55/hr