Private pilots are certified aviation specialists. They hold private pilot licenses that allow them to legally fly aircraft. However, surprisingly enough, private pilots can’t fly for hire or for compensation, meaning they can’t charge for their piloting services except in particular instances.

Also, these private pilots aren’t to be confused with commercial pilots that fly private aircraft.

So how do private pilots make money when they can’t technically earn money with their private pilot’s certification alone?

In this article, we will discuss some ways in which private pilots can make money.

How Do Private Pilots Make Money?

Being a private pilot can be a dream for many. The allure of flying high in the clouds, taking in the views, and being your own boss is a powerful one.

While some may pursue flying as a hobby for many it is a career. But simply having a private pilot isn’t enough to earn a living.

So how do private pilots make money?

Here are 5 different ways:

  1. Becoming flight instructors
  2. Towing gliders
  3. Aerobatics
  4. Selling aircraft
  5. Renting out their aircraft

#1. Becoming flight instructors

First on our list of how private pilots make money, is by becoming a ground school instructor. While this option doesn’t involve actual flying, it is still a rewarding job.

These instructors give students recommendations and share knowledge and experience gained by being a private pilot.

These instructors also conduct ground training for a variety of different purposes, such as recreation flights, sports, and flight reviews. The average salary for ground school instructors falls around $50,000 to $90,000.

#2. Towing gliders

Another way private pilots can make money is by towing gliders. While salaries can vary depending on each pilot’s contract and experience, most can charge around $15-$50 per hour.

The catch to this income stream is that a private pilot must meet a set of requirements before being able to tow. These requirements can include 100 flight hours in command, securing an endorsement from an instructor, and certain other FAA requirements.

#3. Aerobatics

Have you ever watched an airshow and wondered what types of pilots perform those air stunts? This brings us to number three on our list of how private pilots make money, and it is through aerobatics.

When obtaining a private pilot’s license, one will have to learn certain maneuvers that happen to also form the foundation for many aerobatic stunts. Private pilots that do this for a living can earn around $45,000 to $90,000 a year depending on the number of shows books and their skill level.

#4. Selling aircraft

If a private pilot has a knack for sales and wants to gain some airtime, they may be able to make money being an aircraft salesperson.

Aircraft salespeople help prospective buyers determine whether an aircraft is right for them as well as demonstrate an aircraft’s flight capabilities, such as maneuverability, safety performance, and flying condition. Aircraft salespeople can expect to make an annual salary between $30,000 and about $50,000 plus some substantial commissions upon closed sales.

#5. Renting out their aircraft

Last, but not least, on our list of how private pilots make money, is by renting out their own aircraft. While this stream of income may not be available to every private pilot, it can be available to those that own their own aircraft.

Aircraft renting follows the same structure as other for-profit renting opportunities. That being said, an aircraft can’t be rented out to just anyone, so there is some significant legwork and background checks that must be done before a private pilot can rent out their aircraft.


In conclusion, learning to fly can be a dream for many. Getting your private pilot license, soaring through the skies, and taking in the views is an experience like no other.

For some, being a private pilot is more than just a dream, it can be a source of earning a living. So how do private pilots make money?

We reviewed 5 different ways. Some private pilots become flight instructors. They teach other students who want to learn how to fly. Others may tow gliders for a living. Some perform stunts at airshows while others sell aircraft. And lastly, some private pilots rent out their own aircraft for a fee.