Becoming a Pilot

Flying is fun and it’s easier than you think. With aircraft on wheels, skis or floats, the sport flying destinations in Canada are boundless. Flying in Canada offers challenges and freedoms not found in the rest of the world. Piloting an aircraft is a satisfying hobby, a skill testing sport, a new source of friendships and a great way to travel. Canada has 60,000 pilots flying 30,000 aircraft from 2,000 airports and aerodromes. With aircraft on wheels, skis or floats, the destinations are limited only by the imagination.

Getting Started – Be A Pilot

Piloting an aircraft offers Canadians unique challenges and freedoms. Aviation cuts across boundaries of race, affluence and sex. Even a single flight can be a mind-flexing learning experience.  Flying an aircraft is available to most people in Canada. Becoming a pilot requires a certain level of fitness, some money, a measure of academic capability and a keen desire.  The physical standards for pilots are not much more demanding than those of driving a car. The minimum ages vary with the type of licence but you are never too old to learn how to fly. The cost of flying lessons varies with the type of aircraft but many schools offer pay-as-you-go lesson plans paced to fit a budget.  You just have to decide when you want to start.  The sooner the better.

Student pilots don’t have to be rocket scientists. The knowledge required covers navigation, weather, basic aircraft mechanics, theory of flight, air regulations and general airmanship. The material is diverse and interesting. Specialized textbooks and organized courses break it down into easy-to-learn small steps.  Aviation is a challenging, worthwhile hobby.

Some people get into flying via learning to fly PC-based Flight simulators. While it definitely isn’t the same experience as actual flying, that approach can give you exposure to some of the technical aspects of flying as well as the terminology all at a lower entry cost.

 Student Pilot Permit

The Student Pilot Permit is issued for learning to fly a gyroplane, ultralight, glider, balloon, aeroplane or helicopter. An applicant shall be a minimum of 14 years of age for all aircraft categories and must document the required medical fitness. An applicant for a Student Pilot Permit shall meet certain knowledge requirements.
Once the citizenship, age, medical, fitness and knowledge requirements have been met and presented to an authorized person (at most flying schools), a Student Pilot Permit in the category applied for shall be issued. The instructor shall be responsible for ensuring that the applicant has reached a satisfactory standard of experience and skill to complete solo flight before authorizing the first solo flight.


The following aircrew qualifications are called “licences” because they are recognized internationally. There are no international pilot licences, but pilots with Canadian licences may fly Canadian-registered aircraft internationally.

 Private Pilot Licences

The Private Licence, the former entry-level pilot licence, is now the stepping stone for pilots who want to expand their flying to night, instrument weather conditions, larger aircraft, international and commercial. The Private Pilot Licence is available for airplanes and helicopters.

 Commercial Pilot Licences

A Commercial Pilot Licence for airplanes or helicopters is the minimum required to fly certified aircraft for hire. New Integrated Commercial Pilot Courses from Transport Canada have been developed. The requirements are available at most certified flying schools or on the Transport Canada Web site

 Glider Pilot Licence

Glider pilot applicants must be at least 16 years old, meet the Category 4 self-declared medical standard, complete at least 15 hours of ground school, pass a written exam, obtain at least six hours of flight training and pass a flight test. Glider pilots with certain launch experience may carry passengers.

 Balloon Pilot Licence

Balloon pilots must be at least 17 years old and medically fit as determined by a Designated Medical Examiner. The course includes at least 10 hours ground school, 16 hours flying with not less than 11 hours untethered, one ascent to 5,000 feet and two solo flights of 30 minutes each. There is a written exam and a flight test. Licence applicants must be 17 years old. Balloonists’ privileges vary, depending on the type of balloon used for training.

Minimum age (years) for issue:
Student Pilot Permits: For all permits and licences = 14 years of age
Pilot Permits: Gyroplane – 17, Ultralight – 16, Recreational – 16
Pilot Licences: Balloon – 17, Glider – 16
Private Pilot Licences: Aeroplane – 17, Helicopter – 17
Commercial Pilot Licences: Aeroplane – 18, Helicopter – 18
Airline Transport Pilot Licences: Aeroplane – 21, Helicopter – 21

Comments are closed.