Learn to Fly

You're wondering what it would be like to fly an airplane? Whether it's for a career change, business travel, a fun and rewarding personal challenge, or to fulfil a dream, why not try it out?

Could I Really Learn to Fly an Airplane?

I would be happy to take you up for an introductory flying lesson, with no obligation. The lesson can be booked any time in daylight hours., and is subject to suitable weather. After a few minutes in the classroom, discussing the controls of the airplane and what to look for in the air, we would get into a Cessna 152 airplane and go for a half hour flight. The airplane is equipped with dual controls, so that you would fly the airplane yourself for most of the flight, with me explaining what to do, and helping you out as required.

Flying an airplane does not require extrordinary skill, reflexes or bravery, but it is a LOT of fun. I am a Transport Canada licensed flight instructor, working out of Pacific Flying Club at Boundary Bay Airport in Delta, BC.  My students range from teenagers to retirees and come from all over the Lower Mainland and the world.

If you are thinking that there is some reason you could not learn to fly an airplane, let me debunk it on my Frequent Excuses List.

What Does it Cost?

A half-hour introductory flight costs $40, and can be given as a gift. Contact a school near you for more information on training costs. Realize that most schools quote based on the minimum legal time to complete a licence and it is not unusual for your training to cost 50 per cent more than that. Student loans are available to those pursuing aviation as a career.

How Much Time Does it Take?

Each lesson takes about two hours start to finish. That includes a classroom briefing on the exercises to be flown, discussion of the weather and other conditions for the flight, preflight inspection of the airplane, refueling if required, about an hour flight in the airplane, and a postflight review of the lesson.  You will also often be required to do about twenty minutes of homework: reading, memorization, or other preparation for your next flight. The groundschool trainingwill be another forty hours, usually two evenings a week, for three hours each, but alternatives can be arranged.

The whole course of training for a private licence will typically be about 50 or 60 lessons. That means that flying every day, twice a day, you could complete the licence in a month. Weather typically intereferes with such ambitious intentions, but more often it is available cash, time or motivation that limits the frequency of lessons. You can learn to fly taking lessons once a week or even less, but it will take more lessons as well as more total time, because of the tendency to forget things over the week. Twice a week is usually effective, and should get you the licence within a year.  

Who Shouldn't Learn to Fly?

If you have serious medical or mental problems, you probably will not be able to hold an aviation medical, but I know of students who have completed the dual instruction part of the training just for the knowledge and the experience.

Students who don't want to learn to fly, but are taking lessons merely to fulfil their parents' wishes rarely do well.  It sounds silly to say that you shouldn't take flying lessons unless you want to learn to fly, but I'm saying it anyway. The desire to fly is a prerequisite for taking lessons.

What Exactly is Involved?

These are the current requirements of the Canadian private pilot licence

Valid aviation medical certificate, class 3 or higher
45 hours flight training from a licenced instructor, covering all the required exercises
40 hours groundschool
Score of at  least 90% on the written PSTAR test of air regulations
Score of at least 70% on the written test to obtain your Aeronautical Radiotelephone Operator's Certificate
Score of at least 60% in each of the four sections of the PPAER private pilot written exam
Recommendation from your flight instructor
Passing mark (50%) on a flight test with a Transport Canada examiner

See my Flight Training Process page to find out more about what to expect while learning to fly.

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This page written 12 July 2000 by Robyn Stewart.  Last revised 2 February 2005.

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