How do I start on a pilot's license?

If you're in the area, please stop by! It will give us a chance to meet you and show you some of the aircraft on our flight line. We like to start people off with an Introductory Flight with one of our instructors. This 45-minute flight will give you an exciting, close up hands-on experience, which will give you an opportunity to see how our airplanes handle and our instructors teach flight. After the flight, you will debrief with your instructor and discuss scheduling and training materials with the front desk staff, should you decide to continue your training.

How long will it take to get my license?

The time it takes to complete the training for a pilot’s license varies from student to student depending on the frequency of lessons, how much a student prepares for lessons – including reading textbooks – and how quickly a student learns. Assuming a student is well prepared, flying 2 -3 times per week, and learns at an average rate, we find students are able to complete their training for the Sport Pilot’s License in as little as 3 – 6 months, and 6 – 9 months for a Private Pilot’s License. Students set the pace of their own training. We feel that tailoring training to meet students’ specific needs is not only convenient, but also allows a student to take as little or as much time as they may wish. Our primary goal is to produce safe and proficient pilots in the time comfortable for each individual student pilot.

Will I have enough money to learn how to fly?

Have you ever noticed, if you fully commit to a dream the money usually follows? We have seen countless students realize this truism. The cost of a sport pilot certificate usually ranges from $5,000 to $7,000; and a private pilot certificate usually ranges from $10,000 to $12,000. (see our rates page for more details) Rarely have we seen students begin their training with the ability to finance all of their training at once. At Santa Monica Flyers, training is "pay-as-you-go" even if you only pay for one lesson at a time. Our students fly when they have both time and resources to fly and are never pressured to do otherwise. Our students move forward with their training only when they are able.

Will I be able to fit this into my schedule?

Absolutely! We understand that people who want to get their pilot’s license are some of the most successful and busy people around. Fitting flight training into an already busy schedule can be difficult. This is why our students schedule their training to fit their own calendar. They schedule their lessons during the times that best work for them. Ever hear the phrase, “If want something done, give it to a busy person!”? We find that the students who most want their license always figure out how to work it into their schedule.

How can I find the right instructor for me?

Santa Monica Flyers has a wide variety of Flight Instructors on staff. We encourage all students to fly with a few of our instructors to see how well they mesh with them. Please check out our Instructors page to learn more about them. We do ask our students to eventually settle on one flight instructor and to stick with them through the end of their training. You may also feel free to stop in and talk to any of the instructors that are free, to get to know them. We encourage walk-ins.

Why Santa Monica Flyers?

Santa Monica Flyers has the widest variety of airplanes, instructors and ratings available in the Los Angeles Basin. We are highly focused on making our students feel welcome, safe and that they are a part of an institution that will help them achieve their aviation goals as efficiently as possible. We also maintain some of the most modern, fuel efficient, aerodynamically-stable aircraft around and we maintain the highest possible standards for safety and the ongoing maintenance of our aircraft. Potential students should stop by our school and see for themselves. We believe our aircraft and team members speak for themselves.

What type of training is available at Santa Monica Flyers?

Sport Pilot, Private Pilot, Instrument Pilot, Certified Flight Instructor, Certified Flight Instrument Instructor, Airline Transport Pilot; Also: Re-currency, Flight reviews, Proficiency checks, Complex and High Performance endorsements.

What are your Pilot Insurance Requirements for renters?

Liability Coverage: $1,000,000 Each Occurrence $25,000 Passengers Physical Damage Coverage: Non-Owned Aircraft Coverage: $5,000.

Who maintains the aircraft at Santa Monica Flyers?

Your safety and the maintenance of our fleet is our highest priority. Our aircraft are regularly maintained every 50 hours of operation. FAA mandated 100-hour, annual inspections, as well as non-mandated 50-hour inspections are performed at or before they are due. Our aircraft are maintained by some of the most experienced establishments on the field: Bill’s Air Center & Kim Davidson Aviation. Maintenance issues are dealt with expediently to ensure aircraft availability.

Why Santa Monica Airport?

Flying from Santa Monica Airport means flying in one of the busiest regions in the country: the LAX/Burbank/Orange County area. This allows students to learn in a highly challenging environment and develop their ability to fly in any situation. World-renowned aviation experts and pilots cite Southern California as being an airspace that, if mastered, prepares a pilot to fly in any other airspace in the World. Catalina Island, Big Bear Lake and the California High Desert also provide excellent aviation challenges, just a short hop from Santa Monica. Certificated pilots wishing to travel to these higher-level aviation destinations will require a “checkout” from a Certified Flight Instructor.

Which type of aircraft will I be training in?

We encourage most students, who are just beginning their flight training, to start in our LSA Sport Cruisers. Because of their aerodynamic stability and low wing design, Sport Cruisers offer the perfect mix of challenge to a pilot’s skills and safe stability to begin the course of training for Sport or Private certificates. Once certificated, pilots usually wish to “graduate” to larger Cessna 172s, our Cessna SR20 or the “complex” 172RG and “high performance” 182RG.

Are your rates competitive?

We understand our rates are some of the lowest in Southern California. We include the cost of fuel in our rental rates and because our Sport Cruisers are so fuel efficient we can offer them at only $130/hr. with a block rate deposit. Our $70 Sport Cruiser Instructor rate is virtually unheard of and the $90 - $100 Std. Cat. Airplane Instructor rates are very competitive.

What kind of planes are available at Santa Monica Flyers?

Sport Cruisers (LSA), Cessna Skyhawk 172s (including one that is G1000 equipped), Cirrus SR20, Cessna Cutlass 172RG, Cessna Skylane 182RG. *Please see our Aircraft section for more information.

I am a Pilot/Student from another country, what do I have to do to start training?

Start by visiting AOPA's Transportation Security Administration site for instructions and forms: Once you have been approved, you must get fingerprinted, then receive final approval. You may then begin training, contact Santa Monica Flyers to schedule an Introductory Flight. The entire process takes as little as 3-4 weeks. For more information see:

I would like to get checked out to rent, what are your procedures?

We require all pilots have a renter’s insurance. Pilots will also need to sign a renter’s agreement and present our front desk staff with their certificates and endorsements, medical, passport and photo ID. The checkout will consist of: Aircraft Familiarity, Preflight, Maneuvers and Procedures, and Post-Flight Procedures. You may also wish to combine your aircraft checkout with a biennial flight review.

Will I have FUN?!?

Yes! Santa Monica Flyers offers a quick escape from the busy lives of hard-working Southern Californians who wish to achieve their highest goals and life-long aviation dreams. Learning to fly is no small feat but the rewards are endless and the process can be extremely enjoyable. We hope you’ll see for yourself how much fun you can have in our airplanes.

How old do I have to be to start training?

You can start training to fly at any age. Our students have been as young as 10 years old and as old as 75. The FAA requires that a pilot checkride applicant be at least 17 years old. Student pilots must be at least 16 years old before they can fly an aircraft solo.

If I'm under 18 do I need permission from my parents to take flight lessons?

Yes. We require all students under the age of 18 to fill out a parental consent form signed by their legal guardian(s).

What Is an Introductory Flight?

An Introductory Flight is an introduction to General Aviation. Start by making an appointment with an instructor. On the day of your flight, arrive at our school about 5-10 minutes early. Your instructor will talk with you about General Aviation, your goals, & what drew you to aviation. This is an opportunity for you to ask any question you may have. You and your instructor will then "pre-flight" your airplane -- which is a procedure used to do a thorough check of the airplane before flight. Once complete, you and your instructor will take off from Santa Monica Airport and fly to Malibu for approximately 45 minutes, during which time you'll be able to do some basic maneuvers with your instructor, so you can see how the airplane performs in flight. Alternatively, you may choose the more scenic option of flying near the Hollywood Sign; that flight would not include maneuvers. After landing, you and your instructor will debrief the flight, log the flight in a logbook, should you chose to purchase one, and answer any questions. Introductory flight costs: • $156.00 in a Sport Cruiser, plus a $6 landing fee, which is charged by the airport. • $199.00 in a standard Cessna 172, (to upgrade to a Cessna 172 with G-1000 system or the Cirrus SR20, add $45), plus a $12 landing fee, which is charged by the airport. Please note for Cessnas: only one extra person per flight (max two passengers). The Intro Flight is also a great way to introduce a friend or loved one who has “always wanted to try it"; it also makes a great gift! Please allow about 2 hours for your flight, and it's a good idea to make your reservation 1 week in advance to make sure you’ll be able to get the day and time you want. Please be aware that there is a $50.00 cancellation fee for cancellations less than 24 hours in advance of the flight.

Can I purchase a Gift Certificate?

We offer Gift Certificates for any dollar amount you wish. Gift certificates can be purchased in person, or over the phone. These certificates never expire and can be used anytime.

I have a friend who is a student/renter at Santa Monica Flyers. Can I buy him/her more time?

Absolutely! If you know someone that is currently in flight training, or is a renter at Santa Monica Flyers, you can purchase more time for them by simply adding any dollar amount you wish to their account. If you prefer, we can even provide you with a Gift Certificate to present to the pilot/student. Give us a call or email us to set up the purchase.

I’m filling out the TSA application and need some answers to questions on the form!

Okay, here you go: 1. COURSE ID #: 001 2. COURSE NAME: Sport (or Private) Pilots License 3. COURSE DESCRIPTION: VFR License 4. AIRCRAFT TYPE: Czaw Sport Cruiser 5. START&END DATE: Today – 1 year from today.

I'm a foreign pilot, what do I have to do to rent with you?

It used to be so easy, but the rules have changed when it comes to renting aircraft in the U.S. for foreign pilots. Pilots must now get a special clearance from the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) before the FAA can issue a VFR license based on your foreign one. Check out the FAAs' website for more details at:
Once you receive your FAA license, contact us for a Biennial Flight Review (BFR), that will count as your check out and then provided you have renter’s insurance you will be allowed to rent our aircraft. If you plan in visiting us, you must plan ahead.

I am a foreign national. Do you issue U.S. Visas to students?

No. Only USCIS-approved schools may issue the required paperwork for the issuance of a U.S. Visa. Although we do train foreign pilots, those students must attain their Visa directly from the U.S. State Department, then must be cleared through the TSA to train with us. Santa Monica Flyers welcomes any pilots or students once they have obtained their Visa!

Where Can I Buy Renters Insurance For Aircraft Rental?

We recommend AOPA as an excellent resource for low cost, high quality renter’s insurance. The limits required by Santa Monica Flyers are Liability Coverage: $1,000,000 Each Occurrence $25,000 Passengers Physical Damage Coverage: Non-Owned Aircraft Coverage: $5,000.

What are the main differences between a Sport Pilot Certificate and a Private Pilot Certificate?

These are the biggest differences:
1. Sport Pilot may only fly "Light Sport Aircraft." A Private Pilot may fly larger aircraft.
2. Sport Pilot may not fly at night.
3. Sport Pilot may not fly at an altitude of over 10,000 feet above sea level.
Come in for a Personal Training Plan for help determining which license is best for you.
Click here for a detailed comparison of Sport Pilot Certificate and a Private Pilot Certificate
Click here for a detailed list of privileges provided by each certificate.

Can I get a Private Pilot certificate in a Light Sport Aircraft?

YES! You can get a Private Pilot Certificate (a "license" to fly is called a "certificate.") The Private Pilot Course includes everything in the Sport Pilot Course with the addition of more cross country navigation training, night flight, and basic instrument flight. The national average of flight time for earning a Sport Pilot certificate is about 30 hours of flight time while the Private Pilot certificate is in the 60's.

If I get a Sport Pilot certificate, will that training also count toward a Private Pilot certificate?

YES! All of your training and experience as a Sport Pilot counts directly toward your Private Pilot certificate. If you decide to train for a more advanced certificate, none of your training will be wasted! Several of our students, after earning their Sport Pilot certificate and enjoying it for a while, have decided to earn their Private Pilot certificates. They have generally found the upgrade to be a very easy process.

Do I need a 3rd Class Medical?

A 3rd Class Medical certificate is required for private pilot training and above. Because of the new "Basic Med" program offered by the FAA, pilots who hold a 3rd Class Medical need only renew their medical every 10 years, provided they fulfill the other "Basic Med" requirements. See: for more information on Basic Med. If you are interested in a sport pilot license only a valid driver license is required to show proof of medical fitness to fly.

How often will I need to fly or take flight lessons?

Flight training does not expire. Students can resume flight training at any time and, with the exception of a few minor "recency/currency" requirements, all flight training "counts" towards a pilot certificate. It is important to note, however, as in all education, students will forget a certain amount of information between lessons. The longer the time between lessons, the more is forgotten. Therefore, Santa Monica Flyers instructors recommend students fly 3 to 4 times per week. This will result in the least amount of time and cost of flight training. We have successfully helped hundreds of students complete their flight training, even those students who have been able to train far less often than 3-4 times per week. We believe work and other obligations should NEVER discourage a student from fulfilling their dream of becoming a certificated pilot!