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How to choose your training aircraft

Selecting your Training Aircraft

After my discovery flight (fam flight) in a Diamond Eclipse which was so light and maneuverable and fun to fly I researched aircraft rental rates. Renting the diamond at the Edmonton Flying Club at the time was more expensive than what they charged for the C172, and their rates for the 172 were slightly more than what Centennial Flight Centre charged.

I checked the more recent rental rates at the EFC and the Diamond is offered at a rate of $150 per hour and is a little bit less than the Cessna C172 which runs $154 per hour. The EFC is also a not for profit flight club owned by it’s community – the people that train there and rent there.  So by flying with them you would be part of the community and have to pay annual rental dues. Though that may be unattractive to have additional costs, it’s actually a great way of meeting people since these clubs tend to organize lots of social events. In addition, all the profits are put back into the club meaning there may be nicer facilities, and the aircraft may benefit too from better maintenance.

cessna c172 training aircraft
One of the Cessna c172 aircrafts I train on

Centennial’s rates were $129 per hour for the 172.  Though cost shouldn’t be your number one consideration, it is an important factor.  Both schools also offered the two-seater Cessna 150 for $130 and $114 at EFC and Centennial respectively.

I was fairly sure that I didn’t want to learn on a 2-seater plane, because once I got my license I wanted to go on extended trips with friends and with lots of luggage (since I need a lot of gear for my outdoor pursuits). So, I ruled out the Diamond because I needed room for people and cargo.

As well, I realized I wanted to learn on a less maneuverable high-wing aircraft, a popular aircraft that was widely available for rent everywhere and the Cessna C172 is widely available at most flight schools. It is the most popular training aircraft.

Now that I had my training aircraft selected it was time to chose the best flight school  at the Edmonton City Center Airport.


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Do you want to learn how to fly?

Hanging out with a Cessna 172 at CYBW

Thinking about about becoming a pilot – or want to try flying?

First, take a Familiarization (Fam) or Discovery Flight

Every flight school offers a Fam or Discovery flight, a deeply discounted first flight designed to introduce you to the basics of flying.  The instructor will do a walk around the aircraft with you, explain what does what, and then take you up for a short flight, which usually lasts 30 minutes but depends on the school. I took a Fam flight from Edmonton Flying Club, which cost me only $70, and one from the Pacific Flying Club at the Boundary Bay Airport in Delta, BC, cost roughly the same. The one from Centennial Flight Centre in Edmonton cost me $170 and lasts an hour, and I believe Springbank Air Training College charges the same.

Regardless of whether you think you want to pursue a license or not, taking a fam flight is a great idea to introduce you to the basics of flying and flight. Even if you are just curious about flying, it is highly recommended.

On the fam flight, one of the first things you should note is what type of aircraft the school uses, and what condition they are in.  The most important things you should look at are the exterior or flying surfaces of the aircraft, such as the propeller, brakes, what is the tire wear, and so on.  You may also want to take a look inside the aircraft to see what condition the interior is in.  Are the seats worn out?  Are the radios old? Certain items that are cosmetic will not make a huge difference. If you have questions about the safety or condition of the fleet, you should ask the instructor.   You should also keep in mind what plane you want to fly after you complete your license. Are you planning on purchasing a plane, or renting, or are you pursuing aviation as a career?    If it’s just for recreational purposes, is this the plane you want to rent after you have your license?   After you have your license, if you would like to rent a different aircraft, you first must go up with an instructor and learn how to operate or get a type rating on that aircraft, learn it’s particular flight characteristics to satisfy the flight school that you are able to fly it safely before they would l allow you rent it on your own.  This may take lots of flying time, (which can get expensive!) so it is important to chose the plane that you plan on flying after you are finished your license.

Diamond eclipse C1. Image courtesy of
Diamond eclipse C1. Image courtesy of

My first flight was in a stunning Diamond Eclipse C1 two-seater plane pictured above, which was new and very nice inside and out!   I had no idea what I wanted to fly, or what the most popular training aircraft was – that is, by the way, the Cessna 172.  The Edmonton Flying club (EFC) had a fleet of Diamond and Cessna aircraft.  The instructor I was booked with recommended that we go up in a Diamond for my first flight.  It was a great experience, I was scared out of my mind, but hooked right away.

There is also the deeper issue of what you want with the license. Do you want to fly for fun, or do you wan to do it as a career?  I have always been in love with aviation and airplanes. From the first time I flew in an airplane, which was in a LOT Airlines Boeing 767, at 6 years old, my parents took me and my brother up to view the cockpit and I knew there was something about this that would change my life.  I didn’t try flying for decades after that when I was finishing up my Master’s degree.  Once I finish my private license, I am strongly considering a commercial license and making flying a big part of my life.

Stay tuned for some advice as to what challenges to expect when making this decision, and what kind of license you can get.

I was hooked and started looking at which aircraft I should be learning how to fly on and which flight school I should go with.

Your feedback is greatly appreciated

Do you have comments or questions? Please leave them below

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Welcome to my flight blog!

Hi and thanks for visiting  In this blog I write about my personal experience on the road to getting my pilots’ license.

I’ll highlight challenges, successes and everything in between.  It is meant to be informative to those who are learning how to fly or thinking about learning to fly, and those who already have their license.