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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Going Corporate

So far, I've played at being a flight instructor.  I've got over 100 hours of instruction in my logbook, got one commercial pilot thorough his checkride and a private pilot almost past the finish line.  I've done some IPCs and BFRs, and given instrument instruction to a friend at a reduced rate.  I also taught Thing 1 how to do a complete airport pattern - everything except the actual solo.

But since my Bonanza is too fast and too complex to use as a trainer, I've had to take on only students who have their own aircraft, or advanced students who need time in a complex, high performance airplane (mine).  So my pool of potential students has been quite limited, especially beginners who probably don't have their own airplane.

Still, instructing has helped me fly more hours, and subsidized my fun flying.  But I think it's time to get serious.  So this year I decided to formally incorporate my flying business and I'm in the process of converting it to a Texas Limited Liability Company (LLC).  I'm also buying a basic trainer, a Cessna 150 equipped for IFR training as well (picture from

Isn't she pretty?  Dressed as a USAF T-51
It makes economic sense.  As an instructor, I can charge the going rate in the Dallas area, about $40/hr.  If I fly in someone else's airplane, that's all I make, and I only teach on evenings and weekends about 40 to 50 hours a year - so my gross average income from my instructor business is around $2000/yr.

Assuming that gas costs around $40/hr (6 gall/hr) for the C150 and maintenance costs $20/hr ($2,000 spread over 100 hours), and that I rent the airplane to my students for the regional rate of $120/hr, about $60 of that is gross profit added to the instructor fees.  So instead of making $40/hr, I make $100/hr.

Also, perhaps I can triple my instructing hours if I can reach more students, lets say to 150 hr/yr.  So my $2000/yr goes to $15,000/yr.  And some of the costs that today I pay out of pocket become deductible, such as my hangar rent.  I also know several local CFIs who are in the same position, I think I can rent the airplane to them at a discounted rate of say $100/hr, so if it rents out for an additional 100 hrs/yr, that's an extra $4,000.
It's not enough to live on, but that's not my goal, at least not yet.  I'm just looking to supplement my income from wireless telecoms consulting, and get free flying. I'm also positioning myself to become a full time instructor in 10 years or so once I retire from my primary career.  I need to get the airplane back to TX from NC, get a certificate of operations from the FAA, and away we go..... (take off date - May 1st?)