VFR flying is great about three months out of the year, and marginal for about four more months. From November to March you end up canceling a lot of flights because of weather.

The instrument rating is probably the most satisfying rating to get. Your VFR flying will improve with better control and better knowledge of the navaids and the air traffic control system. You are less likely to be grounded because of a low base of scud or rainstorms between you and your destination. There’s nothing better than getting into the plane after two weeks of gray skies and popping out “on top” into glorious sunshine.

Making the decision to go for an instrument rating is not done lightly. It’s at least as expensive to obtain as the Private Pilot certificate, and maybe more difficult. It offers many opportunities, but one has to be aware that overconfidence can lead the pilot into situations more serious than the VFR pilot may get into. It can also get the pilot out of those situations.

BEFA is a good place for IFR training with Class B airspace only two miles away. Renton Airport and Paine Field both are Class D airspace with their own instrument approaches. Class C airspace is close by at Whidbey Island. There are many instrument approaches of virtually all kinds within a short flight from either Renton or Paine. You probably will find every type of instrument approach or instrument procedure that our planes are equipped for within half an hour of Renton. In addition, the typical winter weather in the Puget Sound area guarantees that the average student will have considerable experience with actual instrument conditions by the time the flight test rolls around.

What does it take to get an Instrument Rating?


  • A Private Pilot’s Certificate.
  • At least 50 Hours of cross-country flight after the private

Costs for Flight Training and Tests

Only 40 hours of instrument time is required by FARs; 60 hours is a very conservative figure, but you may complete it in less time. Taking the conservative assumption, the approximate cost of an Instrument rating in addition to your monthly dues and insurance is as follows:

Cost Element Approximate Cost
60 hours flight time in C172 @ $121/hr. $7,260
Tax on flight time $726
60 hours dual instruction @ $60/hr. $3,600
Instrument written exam $150
Flight test exam $300
Total Cost $12,036

Assuming instead that you choose to train with 40 hours flight time and 20 hours of instructor-guided flight simulator time ($50/hour), the approximate cost of an Instrument rating is as follows:

Cost Element Approximate Cost
40 hours flight time in C172 @ $121/hr. $4,840
20 hours flight time in simulator @ $50/hr. $1,000
Tax on flight time $550
60 hours dual instruction @ $60/hr. $3,600
Instrument written exam $150
Flight test exam $300
Total Cost $10,374


  • No allowance was made for pilot time schedule. Eight hours per month is recommended, but not required. Some people have flown every day and obtained the rating in a month. Others have taken over a year.
  • Instrument ground school is optional. Home study is an option.
  • The cost of the various exams varies widely and is set by the examiner.
  • There may be a need for some small expenditures for certain pieces of equipment or documentation as well. Most people will want a good timer for timed turns. NOS instrument charts are generally available for a reasonable cost, but many BEFA members prefer to obtain a Jeppesen subscription to be kept up-to-date automatically.  BEFA can help you get a discount on the subscription.
  • As you can see, a good method to minimize the cost of the rating is to do part of the training in a simulator or ground trainer. BEFA has its own ground trainer which is currently renting for a nominal $50 per hour (member rate). Simulators are great for teaching instrument procedures and also for emergency training that cannot be handled in an actual aircraft. Instructor participation is required for use with any simulator.

BEFA Fleet Advantages

All BEFA IFR aircraft are equipped with radio packages that exceed minimum FAA requirements. All IFR aircraft have two VHF radios, one or two VOR receivers (one with glide slope), one marker beacon receiver, and one altitude reporting transponder. All IFR aircraft also have DME and/or GPS FAA-approved for IFR. One aircraft has EGPWS, TCAD and FIS on a multi-functional display screen in addition to GPS.