Your Pathway to Becoming a Pilot: Flight Training at Vaughn College

Flight training is an exciting step in the educational career of students who wish to pursue Vaughn College’s bachelor of science in aircraft operations. You will conduct your training at Vaughn’s contract partner, Heritage Flight Academy located at MacArthur Airport on Long Island. Heritage is a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-approved Part 141 flight training operation. For more information about Heritage, please click here.

The following pathway outlines the steps you will take to achieve your flight certificates and ratings, alongside your academic coursework, to pursue a career as a professional pilot. The type of aircraft you will fly and the costs associated with that particular certificate or rating are also listed.


Step One: Find the right academic program

You may want to ask the following questions when deciding where to pursue your degree:

  • What are the estimated costs for each license and how long does it take the average student to complete their training?
  • Does the college or university offer a Part 141 FAA-approved flight training program?

Is the college/university eligible to offer students the Restricted-Air Transport Pilot* (R-ATP) rating providing fewer overall hours of flight training to qualify as a regional pilot (often the first position after graduation)? * For more information about the Restricted-Air Transport Pilot rating and the reduction in hours, please click here.

  • Attend an open house at the college/university you are interested in and talk to student pilots in the program about their experience, and ask questions about the opportunity to use flight simulators as part of your training.
  • Speak with a financial aid counselor during your visit to understand the costs and opportunities for financial assistance

Step Two: Take an introductory flight lesson

You can go to any flight school and pay to have an introductory (or demo) flight. Should you choose to join Vaughn College, we will waive the cost of the introductory flight during your first semester.

Step Three: During your first semester in college and before you can start flying, apply for your FAA Medical Certificate.

Should you choose Vaughn, we can provide you with local providers who can assist with this requirement.

Step Four: Achieve your first certificate

During your first two semesters, you will take FLT101 and FLT102 General Aeronautics which also includes a five-hour simulator lab. At the end of the course you will need to pass the FAA knowledge test for private pilot. After your demo flight, you will need clearance from your academic advisor and financial aid office to begin training at Heritage Flight Academy. You will start training as early as possible in your first semester.

Vaughn will provide you with the mass transit tickets to cover the commuting costs to Heritage. Once you achieved your private pilot certificate, you will be able to fly solo on clear days with good visibility and light winds (also called VFR—visual flight rules).

Through Vaughn’s arrangement with Heritage Flight Academy, the following costs are available for Vaughn flight students only:

You will purchase 50 hours of flight time (including time with a flight instructor and your solo time). The minimum to achieve a certificate is 35 hours. While you will only pay for 50 hours, should you require up to 70 hours based on your individual needs the cost will not increase. In addition, you will also receive purchase 50 hours of pre- and post-flight lesson time with your instructor (also known as “ground school.” The minimum to achieve your certificate is 35 hours, but should you require more time based on your individual needs, you can receive 70 hours with no additional cost. The total cost for the certificate also includes one check ride with an instructor who will ensure that you are ready to take your practical and oral test with a Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE). The cost for the check ride is $800 and included in the total fee of $12,800. After you have achieved your certificate you will enroll in FLT111 General Aeronautics Flight Review in which a Vaughn faculty member, or their designee, will review and evaluate the student’s flight skills.
Please note, every student learns differently, and it may take you more or less time than your student colleagues.

Costs associated with the Private Pilot Certificate:

  • Purchase 50 hours of flight time (receive 70 hours if required)
  • Purchase 50 hours of ground instruction (receive 70 hours if required)
  • Check ride with an instructor
  • Type of Aircraft you will train in: Cessna 172 Skyhawk

Total cost for the Private Pilot Certificate: $12,800

Step Five: Achieve your Instrument Rating

The second step to becoming a professional pilot is the Instrument rating, which allows holders to fly under IFR (Instrument Flight Rules). Private pilots who successfully earn their instrument rating will be able to take off, fly, and land using the instruments in their aircraft. This is crucial for flights on cloudy days, at night and in bad weather. The process is similar to the private pilot certificate with students taking an academic course, FLT120 Intermediate Aeronautics which also requires simulator lab time and passing the FAA written exam (for this rating students may fly while working to pass the written exam). At the end of your training time, you will receive an instructor check ride to ensure that you are ready to test with a DPE who will conduct an oral and practical examination. The costs for this rating are:

You will purchase 30 hours dual flight time with an instructor. The minimum to pass the examination is 21 hours. Should you require additional time, the fee covers the cost of up to 40 hours with an instructor. You will also purchase 15 hours of Heritage Flight Academy Simulation time (the minimum to achieve the rating is 14 hours), and receive up to 30 hours, should you need it. Also, you will purchase 50 hours of pre- and post-flight ground time with your instructor (the minimum is 30 hours) and, should you need it, receive up to 70 hours. Finally, you will purchase 1.5 hours of solo flight time in advance of the check ride and pay a $800 fee for the check ride with an instructor to ensure that you are ready to test with a designated pilot examiner. Upon receipt of the rating, students will receive credit for their flight training in the FLT121 Intermediate Aeronautics Flight Review course where a Vaughn faculty member, or their designee, will review the students flight skills.

Costs associated with the Instrument Rating:

  • Purchase 30 hours of flight time (receive 40 hours if required)
  • Purchase 15 hours of flight simulation time at Heritage Flight Academy (receive 30 hours if required)
  • Purchase 1.5 hours of solo flight time
  • Check ride with an instructor
  • Type of aircraft you will train in: Cessna 172 Skyhawk and FAA-certified simulator

Total cost for the Instrument Rating:  $10,800

Step Six: Next Step the Commercial Pilot Certificate

This certificate allows a pilot to operate a single engine airplane for hire.

  • Purchase 65 hours dual flight time (C-172/TAA/RB SD Redbird simulator) [minimum is 55]
  • Purchase 56.5 hours solo flight time (C-172)
  • As per FAA dual + solo must equal 120 hours, breakdown will be at discretion of HFA

Receive up to 130 hours combined dual and solo flight time

  • Purchase 40 hours pre/post ground time [minimum is 35]

Receive up to 60 hours pre/post ground time

  • One Checkride Fee ($800)

Fee to student: $22,800

OPTIONAL: This license allows a pilot to operate a multi-engine aircraft for hire.

  • Purchase 10 hours dual flight time BE-76
  • Purchase 1.5 hours solo flight time BE-76 (for the checkride)
  • Purchase 8 hours pre/post ground time

Receive up to 20 hours pre/post ground time

  • One Checkride Fee ($800)

Fee to student: $4,800: All multi-engine work is in a Beechcraft Duchess

Step Seven: Become and Certified Flight Instructor with Instrument and Multi-Engine Ratings

Flight Instructor Airplane CFI-A (Part 61)  – the next two licenses are earned toward the end of a student’s four years at Vaughn and allow students to build up flight time while working as instructors teaching skills to new students interested in earning their flight ratings.

  • Purchase 30 hours ground time

Receive up to 50 hours ground time

  • Purchase up to 17 hours dual flight time
  • Purchase 2 hours solo flight (for checkride)
  • One Checkride Fee ($1,400)

Fee to student: $6,900; Type of Aircraft you will train in: Cessna 172

Flight Instructor Instrument CFI-I (Part 61)

  • Purchase 25 hours ground time

Receive up to 45 hours ground time

  • Purchase up to 15 hours dual flight time
  • Purchase 1.5 hours solo (flight for checkride)
  • One Checkride Fee ($800)

Fee to student: $5,300; Type of Aircraft you will train in: Cessna 172

Multi Engine Instructor ME-I (Part 61)

  • Purchase 20 hours ground time

Receive up to 30 hours ground time

  • Purchase 14 hours dual flight time BE-76
  • Purchase 1.5 hours solo flight time BE-76 (for the checkride)
  • One Checkride Fee ($800)

Fee to student: $6,600; flown in the Beechcraft Duchess


Step Eight: Finish Your Degree and Take A Position in the Aviation Industry

Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology considers the career development of every student a primary responsibility. Career counseling is conducted through the office of career services, department chairs and the faculty. Throughout its history, the College has assisted its students and graduates in securing meaningful internships and employment that relates to the majors offered. Ninety-six percent of Vaughn College graduates, eighty percent in their field of study, are placed in professional positions or choose to continue their education within one year of graduation.

Leaders in aviation, aerospace, manufacturing, engineering design, public utilities, local state and federal government, to name a few, seek the College’s graduates. The office of career services provides ongoing industry updates for both continuing and graduating students. The College is also committed to lifelong learning and advisement on career development issues for its alumni. Employment opportunities, job prospects, company literature and information are provided through this office as well. Career development guidance and assistance are always available to students.

Vaughn College is so confident that it prepares its graduates for employment that it is offering a guarantee for those who meet certain criteria.

If an eligible student is not employed full time in their field of study one year after graduating, and conducting an active job search, Vaughn College will provide reimbursement for one year of the graduate’s federal Direct undergraduate student loan payments.