The Real Cost of Becoming a Private Pilot

By Bloomberg Rankings - 2012-03-08T22:04:05Z

Photograph by Douglas Menuez/Getty Images

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Getting Your Wings

After Clay Presley, chief executive of Carolina Pad & Paper, crash-landed into New York's Hudson River aboard U.S. Airways in January 2009, he confronted his fears: He enrolled in flying lessons. In June 2011, Presley earned his private pilot certificate (which most hobbyists and all commercial pilots achieve). Three months later, he and Jeff Skiles, the first officer on that U.S. Airways flight, enrolled in a course to get their seaplane ratings -- allowing them to land in water legally. According to the FAA, Presley is among 600,000 pilots in the U.S. "It's a thrill that very few people have," he says.