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Learning to fly is not an endeavor restricted to steely-eyed missile men with eagle eyes and lightning reflexes.  Men and women of all ages, backgrounds and abilities have taken on the challenge and succeeded.

Obtaining a private pilot certificate does, however, require focused effort and dedication.  It is not like driving in the two-dimensional environment of the road.  A certain amount of “rewiring” of the brain is required to comfortably and safely function in the three dimensions of the air.  A pilot-in-training also must grasp the fundamentals of aerodynamics and meteorology.

Peruse our FAQs. If you have additional questions, call us at (208) 344-5401, or use the adjacent form to send a message, or drop by our facilities for a visit.  We are happy to sit down and answer your questions to your satisfaction.

How long does it take for a club member to get a license?

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 for a club member to get a private pilot’s license?

It depends on how long it takes you, but you can expect to spend somewhere in the range of $8000-10,000.

Won’t it cost more to fly from Boise’s airport than Nampa or Caldwell?

In the short run, that may be true. However, an advantage of being a club member in 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, 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 than 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?

With a private pilot's 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 pro rata expenses 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?

It all begins with that private pilot’s license. Then, you move 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 are many ways to get that United job.

How does Ponderosa Aero Club work?

We’re a nonprofit organization existing solely for the purpose of providing its members with aircraft for their personal use and enjoyment only, which includes providing education and training to pilot and non-pilot members. Initial membership is $800 and monthly dues are $105. Annual fees for years 2-5 are $175. After five years' continuous active membership, annual fees cease. Members who fly receive a $30 fly-back credit the month they fly, thus encouraging proficiency and lowering dues to $75. Club aircraft are all owned by club members and leased back to the club. The aircraft are operated at cost; every dollar earned by an aircraft goes back to that aircraft. Salaries and operating expenses are financed by dues and fees.

How do I pay for my flights and instructor time?

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 $120/hour) and about an hour and a half of the flight instructor’s time (they’re a bargain at $68/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.