The Poor Pilot

frugal flying for student and recreational aviators

Author: Tony

Free Ground Lesson: Picking Visual Checkpoints

I am  the worst at picking visual checkpoints.  Every time I did my cross country flights I ended up relying on the GPS  or ForeFlight.

Where is it? I wrote on my flight plan 'where those two roads intersect.'

Where is it? I wrote on my flight plan ‘where those two roads intersect.’

In preparing for a stage check I did some research on what makes for a good visual checkpoint, and thought I’d share some of the pointers I found.

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Fall Semester is just around the corner – book buying time

It’s that time of year where you have to open up the wallet, purse, or pocket book and buy a bunch of books. In aviation you even have to pay for the syllabus.

Well us poor pilots are always looking to save a few bucks, and I will let you in on how I paid for all of the books I needed for my Private course work.


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FREE Air Show – Power in the Pines at McGuire AFB

PowerInThePines2016A little late to plan for, but if you are free this weekend and here in the north east, you should probably check out the free air show at Joint Base McGuire – Dix – Lakehurst.   It is located just outside of Trenton, New Jersey.

There will be a performance by the Golden Knights, a P-51 Mustang demo, a B2 fly by (only on Saturday,) and plenty more.

The show is open to the public and goes from May 14th to the 15th.   The gates open up at 9am and the performances start at 11am.

Did I mention admission and parking is free!?

Just don’t try and fly in!

For more info, check out the site

David and I will be there Sunday, hope to see you there!


We added an aviation event calendar

calendarWhat’s up poor pilots?!   It is taking a while to get as much content up on the site as I would like.  It’s the end of the semester so exams, and prep for my written exam and checkride have forced the blog to the back burner.  We have been doing some work in the background though, and setting up the new event calendar is one of those background things that we can now share.    So here you are!

You can now see upcoming events in the sidebar (click on the drop down menu and select events for mobile devices,) and a full events calendar on the events page.   I added a few events and will continue to add them as I find them.  I will add things like air shows, fly-ins, FAA and AOPA events, and anything I find interesting.

If you have anything you would like for us to add, just shoot us an email with the info at

These events are great opportunities for networking, and by participating we help to build, and strengthen the aviation community.  We will post about upcoming events, be sure to comment on the event if you plan to attend.  By commenting you might find someone to fly with and split the costs of a plane rental, and save some coin, after all that is the point of this site.

Stay tuned,  let us know what you want to hear about, and fly safe!


Free Ground Lesson – Collision Avoidance

I’m going to try and point you guys to a free ground lesson every week, and it seems like the AOPA Air Safety Institute will be the source of most of these. If you don’t have your AOPA membership yet, just get it now. The Flight Training magazine alone is worth it.

Also, I may comment on some of these classes, please keep in mind that I am not a CFI, so don’t listen to me at all, ever.  If I publish something wrong, please contact me or comment on the post and I will fix it right away.

Now that we got the disclaimer out of the way, let’s get on to the free lesson.

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The poor pilot’s flight bag

flight bagNo matter what our financial situation is, us pilots are very fortunate to experience the joys of aviation. I should’ve probably mentioned that  in my first blog post.  Really  there is no such thing as a poor pilot,  but still,  flying isn’t cheap.   The flight bag is no exception.   My flight bag has close to $1,000 of stuff in it, and I pride myself in being frugal.

So what’s in my bag?

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Watch your hose!

This Hose reel was serious - got my hand good.

This hose reel was serious – got my hand good.

Saturday I booked a plane at school for my first cross country flight,  and while doing the preflight inspection realized there was only half a tank of gas . I was just about to have the line guys top it off when I remembered there was a way to make money on fuel.  I’m not talking T. Boone Pickens moola here, but if you do this on all of your cross country flights you can help to offset some of the costs of rentals.

So what’s the hustle?  Well when you rent your plane “wet” (fuel included) you get reimbursed at the rate of your home airport for any fuel you purchase elsewhere.   Find an airport where the fuel is $3.74 per gallon, and fuel is $4.41 at your school (like in my case), and you make 67 cents for every gallon you get.

So here’s how you do it:


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A free ground lesson – Off airport landings

Off Airport Landing

I couldn’t think of a better way to start off a blog about being frugal than with something that’s free. Specifically a free ground lesson that included off airport emergency landings!

On Wednesday that is exactly what went down (<–bad pun.)  AOPA hosted one of their Safety Seminars in my area, and it was free.  Now,  I’m pretty sure that this won’t count toward any required ground time for any certifications, ratings, or endorsements, but anything you learn at one of these events, you won’t have to go over with a CFI.   That could lead to some real savings.

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