It certainly takes more time and money to get your private pilot license compared to lower certifications, but it opens up a world of opportunity and possibility.
If you ask a pilot what makes the added expense and time it takes to get a PPL worth it, it usually comes down to one of the following 8 things.
Table of Contents
- 1 8 Things You Can Do With a Private Pilot License
- 2 Can You Make Money With a Private Pilot’s License?
- 3 Next Steps After Getting a Private Pilot License
8 Things You Can Do With a Private Pilot License
1. Fly Internationally
One of the best things about holding a private pilot license compared to a sport or recreational pilot license is the freedom it gives you to travel.
No longer are you forced to endure traveling like an ordinary citizen. Instead, you can join the very exclusive club of being able to fly anywhere in the world at a drop of a hat and in style.
Of course, you still need to comply with any foreign airspace requirements, but a private pilot license is powerful, and you will freely be able to travel to most countries.
All you need is a private pilot license and private plane to fly internationally.
2. Travel With Your Friends & Family
Flying internationally is one thing, but being able to fly your friends and family anywhere in the world is a whole other thing.
You will never forget the first time soaring through the skies with your friends and family right by you with a smile on your and everyone else’s face. No matter how many times you fly with your loved ones, the novelty never seems to wear off.
Just note that if you want to enter Class A airspace, you must hold an instrument rating.
3. Split Flight Expenses
While you can’t be paid to carry passengers or cargo, you don’t have to fork the cost of flying all from your own pocket.
You can split flight expenses with your passengers on a pro-rata basis, including aircraft rental fees, fuel, oil, and airport expenditures.
4. Fly at Night
Flying during the day can be a very enjoyable experience, especially when all you can see in the distance is nothing but blue skies. But flying at night also brings its own unique enjoyment – one of tranquility and the beauty of clear, starry skies.
Being able to fly at night also gives you much more freedom and opens up many opportunities, such as being to fly much further, and not being constricted to only flying at certain hours.
5. Fly Different Aircraft
Want to fly a Cessna 180? How about a Piper Archer or Warrior? What about a Cherokee or one of the many other airplanes that you see in a hangar?
With a standard private pilot license, you can fly aircraft up to a maximum weight of 12,500 lbs. With additional training/certifications, the maximum weight limit can be further increased.
6. Become an Instructor
While a PPL isn’t strictly necessary to become a ground instructor, the knowledge and experience you gained while working towards your license makes you an excellent candidate for the role.
You might be teaching on the ground instead of up in the skies, but helping students and getting paid in the process can be very rewarding. The experience you gain can also prove useful if you are thinking of progressing towards a career in aviation.
If you would like to put your private pilot license to good use and give back to the community, there is no better way than flying for a non-profit organization.
Organizations like Angel Flight, Air Care Alliance, and Pilots for Patients are always seeking pilots for medical transportation, disaster response, animal rescue, environment support, and many other good causes.
8. Become an Aircraft Salesman
When working towards a private pilot license, becoming an aircraft salesman probably isn’t the first thing on your mind. But demonstrating aircraft to prospective buyers can be a very lucrative career and one that more and more pilots are getting into.
Commission percentages may be small, ranging from 0.5-3%, but when an aircraft is sold for hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars, this soon adds up greatly. Flat-fee commission structures are also common.
Can You Make Money With a Private Pilot’s License?
There aren’t many paying jobs you can get with a private pilot license.
However, according to FAR 61.113, you can work as an aircraft salesman, tow a glider or unpowered ultralight vehicle, or conduct a production flight test in a light-sport aircraft.
You can also become a ground instructor. A PPL is not strictly required for the role but your experience and knowledge will help.
Next Steps After Getting a Private Pilot License
After you have earned your PPL, the next step is usually to get an instrument rating. This allows you to fly in low-visibility conditions under Instrument Flight Rules.
If you want a career in aviation, working towards a commercial pilot license should then follow, which opens up the possibility to work in several roles as a paid pilot.
A multi-engine rating should also be earned at some point, as it allows you to fly other types of aircraft and be eligible for additional, usually higher-paying roles.
Helen Krasner holds a PPL(A), with 15 years experience flying fixed-wing aircraft; a PPL(H), with 13 years experience flying helicopters; and a CPL(H), Helicopter Instructor Rating, with 12 years working as a helicopter instructor.
Helen is an accomplished aviation writer with 12 years of experience, having authored several books and published numerous articles while also serving as the Editor of the BWPA (British Women Pilots Association) newsletter, with her excellent work having been recognized with her nomination of the “Aviation Journalist of the Year” award.
Helen has won the “Dawn to Dusk” International Flying Competition, along with the best all-female competitors, three times with her copilot.