Well, lots of commentary here, no doubt because two hot buttons for pilots and student pilots alike are the expense of flying and the trials & tribulations of learning to fly.
Let's take a deep breath and think about this for a mo'. Roger finds your rates ridiculous...but you are located in one of the most expensive parts of the USA while Roger is in AZ where land, labor and even the weather are more forgiving when training for a pilot license.
If you are just beginning, it's still not too late to look at other training alternatives. (Did you notice Rod's advice to new student pilots for a '3 lesson commitment' and then evaluate your initial choices of the CFI and school?) But you've stated there is no other SPL training program available to you, and of course a PPL program will cost even more. One option you do have is to reexamine how far you are willing to commute to your lessons. Commuting takes time but little money. In your shoes, I would definitely use one or more knowledgeable sources to confirm my geographic training options. (Have you e.g. worked your way through AOPA's on-line resources at http://www.aopa.org/learntofly/
)? The good news here is that, assuming the program you initially chose is a decent one, the training you are getting is doing its job, even if you later switch to another program.
There is nothing magic about a one hour session, and your in-flight training time is undoubtedly shaped in part by how much flying is required to get you to an acceptable training area. Look at your sectional, evaluate how dense the controlled airspace is where/near you are training, and ponder whether a part of your training cost is 'in-flight commuting' vs. commuting in your car. Again, the latter is far cheaper. The other point is for you to judge what best works for you (re: length of in-flight time). Remember: You are the client here and developing a training plan that provides the right amount of 'digestion' time following the right size of the 'meal' is what you want to be buying.
By contrast, flying less frequently in a given period simply to reduce the per-month flight training cost is, quite likely, a more expensive choice. What you're after is a pace that fits your learning style (even if it requires adjustments in your normal work sked) for the few months your training program will last, and with training sessions that best fit your ability to absorb the training.
Speaking of skeds, consider whether laying out the entire 'plan of attack' for obtaining a SPL on a calendar might be helpful to you. Your part of the country can, in any given year, have a short fall season and summer is past the half-way mark, so doing this will help you consider seasonal complications. Once the fall (and worse, early winter) weather systems start interrupting your training sked (and everyone else's at the school), things will stretch out even more. This may not sound useful to you but, in your shoes, one thing I'd like to do is lay out at least a full tentative plan with my CFI - on a calendar - the sequence and time period of the training a typical student needs and at the pace I would prefer. I would then, on my own, set calendar targets for my written test and one or two 'assessment points' with my CFI to learn if I'm still on track relative to the tentative plan. That would also clarify for me when that checkride is coming up. And finally, it would be a financial planning tool, letting me see when the different kinds of training fees will hit.
I don't recommend having that discussion with your CFI for a mix of reasons. Presumably, s/he has less experience and therefore perspective on your issue than the person running the flight training program, the CFI can take the question personally (since the cost was a direct result of choices made by the CFI), and it would be difficult for the CFI to reflect impartially on who at the school might be the best instructor for you (the CFI has a financial incentive in keeping you).
Two final thoughts: THE most important decision you make as a student is the choice of your CFI. Both the previous resources I mentioned (the AOPA content and Machado's large website of content) talk about this at length. If you're still not sure this match-up is the best one for you, look at many specific shopping tips they mention (seeking multiple referrals, typical # of hours to check rides by both the school and the specific CFI, your own preferred learning style, and so forth). And second, don't overlook the importance of properly preparing for each lesson. Doing so is totally under your own control and can have a direct impact on the value of the instruction - and even the value of the solo flight time which comes later.
RAF Florida State Liaison
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