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Buying your own plane can be an expensive endeavor, so you might want to get your pilot’s license without having to buy a plane. But can you?

Getting a pilot’s license is one of the best investments that you can make in yourself. Based on my own experience, there’s little in this world I love more than being able to hop in a plane and fly it by myself without needing anyone else on board. But many people aren’t sure if they can get their wings without owning a plane of their own. How does that work?

You do not have to buy a plane before getting your pilot’s license. In the vast majority of cases, pilots don’t buy a plane of their own until long after earning their wings. It’s typically much easier and makes a lot more sense to just rent a plane until you’re 100% committed to flying.

Getting a pilot’s license and owning your own airplane might go hand-in-hand, but they’re also mutually exclusive from each other. In this article, I’ll go over how getting your pilot’s license without having to buy an airplane works, what’s involved in getting a license, and some of the most affordable airplanes that you can buy if you’re interested in owning one of your own.

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Can You Get Your Pilot’s License Without Owning a Plane?

Not only is it possible to get your pilot’s license without owning a plane of your own, but it’s the norm in the vast majority of cases. Very few prospective pilots decide to shell out the money for a plane of their own before earning their pilot’s license, just simply due to the fact that it’s a big investment to make upfront and there really isn’t any reason to buy a plane before getting your license.

In fact, you can become a pilot and enjoy a complete career as either a private pilot or a commercial pilot without ever owning your own plane. Based on my experience and knowledge of the industry, I would guess that the vast majority of career commercial pilots never actually buy a plane of their own. Of course, I’m not talking about buying a commercial airplane or anything, but most commercial pilots never even buy a private plane of their own.

That’s because for many pilots that make a career out of it, at the end of the day it’s just their job. Not to say that being a pilot isn’t without a doubt one of the most rewarding careers out there. But after flying planes for a living as you work towards retirement, you very well may not want to spend even more time flying outside of your normally scheduled routes.

Even for private pilots working towards or planning on obtaining their Private Pilot License (PPL), buying a plane before getting started is very rarely done. Almost all flight training schools that you attend will have planes available for rent so that you don’t have to decide on a plane before earning your wings.

One of the biggest reasons for this is because the best types of planes to fly while you’re fresh out of the box and just learning to fly aren’t typically the ones that you’ll want to buy and fly yourself after getting your license. Flying something like a Cessna 150, for example, is super easy to learn with. But once you get your license and want to just hop in your own plane and take a trip, there are many other planes that you’ll likely enjoy flying much more!

Should I Buy a Plane Before Getting My Pilot’s License?

Now that you know you can get your license without buying a plane, you might be thinking why anyone would ever buy a plane first. I’ll be honest with you, in my opinion, and based on input from many other pilots and enthusiasts, buying a plane before getting your license is not really recommended. But there are still a couple of reasons to consider it.

The first advantage of having your own plane from the start is that you’ll be training and learning to fly in the plane that you’re actually planning on flying after you get your license. The thought process behind this is that by the time you finish your training and get your license, you will be a “master” of that plane and have no trouble flying it moving forward. On the flip side, however, it might be more beneficial to learn how to fly in general rather than being tied to a specific plane.

Another reason you might think about buying your own plane before getting your license is that you feel like renting a plane is a waste of money. At least when you buy a plane, that plane is yours. When you rent, you’re paying for a plane that you don’t actually get to own. But renting really isn’t wasting money. You’re paying for the convenience of not having to worry about any of the other costs (and headaches) involved in plane ownership.

People that choose to buy a plane before they get their pilot’s license have to be 100% committed to flying, or else it can really be a big financial burden and stressor. If you buy a plane but then decide that flying is not for you, you can be out thousands of dollars (or more) by the time you sell it to recover as much of your initial investment as possible. In most cases, it’s just better to wait until you’re licensed before buying a plane of your own!

What are the Best Planes for New Pilots to Buy?

Whether you decide to heed the advice here and wait until after earning your wings to buy a plane, or you want to get your hands on one as quickly as possible, it’s important to know which ones are the best for beginners to buy. A lot of different factors go into this decision, with the two biggest ones being how much It costs and how easy it is to fly.

We go into each of these categories in much more detail in our articles on the cheapest planes to buy and fly and the easiest planes to flyb n, so I’ll spare you the details in this one. But to help make your decision easier, these are the planes taken directly from both of those articles:

  • Aeronca Champ
  • Beechcraft Skipper
  • Cessna 150
  • Cessna 172 Skyhawk
  • Diamond DV20/DA20 Katana
  • Diamond DA40 Star
  • Ercoupe 415-C
  • Luscombe Silvaire
  • Piper Cherokee 140
  • Stinson 108

The good news is that many of these planes are actually on both lists. So no matter when you decide to buy an airplane of your own, these ten models should be at the top of your list!