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I can’t commit to flying on a regular basis right now. I’m close to a Class B airport with a flight school. There’s a C150 for 100/hr and a Zlin 242 for 160/hr. Instruction is 50/hr. There is, surprisingly, only one cheaper option nearby, and the price difference is small, so the closer option of the two is better. I’ve been studying the AFH, PHAK, and FAR/AIM, so I know my stuff. I’ve not yet taken ground school. I can’t commit to flying regularly right now. Is it still worth taking some lessons? I’d like to solo on my 16th birthday, so accruing hours is important. Should I wait until school is out and I can fly more regularly, or should I just go for it?

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  • $\begingroup$ What do you mean by regularly? I mean at one extreme there's a fixed schedule, just like a school class, when you go X times a week at the same time, for however many weeks it takes. At the other you go whenever you have the time & money, which depending on your circumstances could mean long gaps between some lessons. And what's your ultimate goal? Do you want to fly for a living, or just for fun? $\endgroup$ – jamesqf May 7 at 1:00
  • $\begingroup$ Look into student loans. When you are ready to commit, money should be no object, but make sure you look into what pilots get paid every step of the way and perhaps fine tune your career goal. A few lessons before you take the plunge certainly would not hurt your chances, and would enable you to visit several flying schools to pick the one you like best. $\endgroup$ – Robert DiGiovanni May 7 at 1:12
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    $\begingroup$ Is the flight school with the Cessna 150 at the Class B airport? Which airport? That is surprising. I would caution against taking lessons at the Class B airport. You will be paying rental and instruction rates by the hour. At a busy Class B airport, you might spend a lot of time on the ground with the prop spinning just waiting for clearance to takeoff. Also, Traffic Pattern work and landing practice probably won’t be allowed except for late late at night. You will probably also have to leave the airspace to practice maneuvers. All of this eats up time and money. $\endgroup$ – Dean F. May 7 at 5:10
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    $\begingroup$ Look for a flight school at a slow Class C or D airport. Practice entering the Class B airspace. But, save your actual flights to the actual Class B airport for your night landings. This would be a better use of time and money. $\endgroup$ – Dean F. May 7 at 5:13
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    $\begingroup$ I can't see that it would cause any harm. It might be a waste of money but anyone who drives a 50,000 car just threw in the bin 48,000. Every living person in the US seems to waste ~ 2000 a year on Dunkin Donuts. (About 7 a day.) Every time you spend 100 to go to the movies it is a "waste" of money. Seems like a fantastic idea to me, and while "an entertainment expense" could there be a better way to spend it?? $\endgroup$ – Fattie May 7 at 22:32
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My humble advice is to take a single introductory flight in the Cessna 150 to galvanize your interest and increase your motivation. Go to ground school first and then (preferably) start your flight training (in the C150) in earnest once you have the time and money available to take lessons on a regular schedule (once a week minimum, three times a week maximum [until the later stages of your initial training -when you are practicing what you have learned and not learning new skills]).

In my experience, having too big of a gap between flight lessons can be counter-productive and make for a (sometimes) difficult learning curve. This can lead to frustration on your part and, perhaps, result in your enthusiasm being diminished.

Frequent lessons will most quickly enhance your skills and your proficiency will improve steadily. Additionally, recency of flight experience will provide for greater personal enjoyment and reinforce your confidence, a very important factor in learning to fly.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! That’s really helpful. Since the end of school isn’t TOO far out, I’ll probably do just that- an hour of intro in the 150, then figure out a way to pay for lessons and commit to going flying regularly (barring weather or maintenance issues). Thanks again for your advice. $\endgroup$ – MD88Fan May 7 at 0:29
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    $\begingroup$ You bet! I started flying almost 50 years ago and have never regretted even for a second making a career of aviation. After my first flight in an airplane I was obsessed and that's all I thought about from that moment on. I'm pretty old now, but my memories are fresh and I'd start over again instantly if given the chance. Good luck, it's an incredible career! $\endgroup$ – 757toga May 7 at 3:33
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    $\begingroup$ @MD88Fan I strongly second this answer. Gaps in training will quickly dilute what you've learned, and you lose the "repetitio mater studiorum est" -effect. You'll end up learning the same stuff over and over again, and your overall progress will be slow. Believe me, I've tried this, and absolutely advice against it ;) Flying itself is not hard, but learning it is quite laborous, any distractions should be minimized so you'll become a safe pilot. $\endgroup$ – Jpe61 May 7 at 8:48
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    $\begingroup$ Same here. I did my private pilot license in 1975 while 18, and saved up the cash and just went and did it all out. It took me 6 weeks, which included a 2 week delay waiting for my student pilot permit. I did my flight test with 38 hours, just above the minimum of the time (in Canada). If I'd trained piecemeal, I would have had the more typical 40-60 hours (at this time the course didn't include all the instrument and radio nav bits and the minimum hours for the course was only 35 hrs). I suggest you save up the cash first and then go gang busters. Maybe a couple of lessons for motivation. $\endgroup$ – John K May 7 at 14:10
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Flight training nowadays is based on WWII-era programs that had the aim of mass producing pilots. Downside is that nowadays 40% of those who start training, don't get their PPLs (planeandpilotmag.com).

AOPA looked into this issue, and the top reform proposal to fix that is:

[Establishing] a standardized training syllabus that is carefully followed

AOPA presentation; PDF; slide 42; bold emphasis mine

Which is based on data that suggests training syllabi aren't followed.

You can apply it to anything, not just flying. Compare it to going to university, and choosing to get a degree over eight years instead of say four. You risk losing steam and interest, and you won't absorb as much since there's little practice in between. So, I second @757toga 's answer.

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    $\begingroup$ That’s a really interesting bit of knowledge. I know saying it sounds ridiculous, but there’s no way I’m not getting my PPL, I’ve organized a huge part of my life around becoming a pilot, and it’s really the only career that I can realistically see myself in. $\endgroup$ – MD88Fan May 7 at 0:39
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    $\begingroup$ @MD88Fan: Best of luck! The general Q/A may still benefit those thinking about the same thing without having a CPL/ATPL in mind. $\endgroup$ – ymb1 May 7 at 0:43
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    $\begingroup$ I certainly wish you the best of luck @MD88Fan but building your life on a single career path is just plain and simple stupid. Always, always have a backup. $\endgroup$ – Jpe61 May 7 at 8:41
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    $\begingroup$ At 16 you aren't aware of the vast majority of jobs, and it's hard to really know which parts of any job will still be rewarding after you've done it for a few years, and which bits will just be a chore, or if anyone will pay you to do the fun bits. Do what you're interested in, because you'll be motivated to do it well, but very few people end up doing what they thought they would. I can only suggest asking lots of older people how and why they do what they do, and thinking carefully about why flying appeals to you. $\endgroup$ – Robin Bennett May 7 at 15:13
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    $\begingroup$ @MD88Fan: What will do if you have an accident or illness that means you can't pass the physical for commercial or ATP? Always try to have backup plans - just as when flying, you want to have alternate airports :-) $\endgroup$ – jamesqf May 7 at 16:54
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I would say no. Flying is something that requires practice, you can't do it piecemeal. Once you can commit the time and money, go for it!

It's a very rewarding skill but like most of those, it requires maintenance in the form of regular practice. If you can't do that, I wouldn't get started.

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  • $\begingroup$ That echoes what I've been seeing. I'm thinking I might do one or two just for motivation and to make sure I want to move forward, but I'll be saving up for sure. $\endgroup$ – MD88Fan May 7 at 22:15

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