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How I got started with my private pilots license

On final approach, wearing the headset.

Here is the account of some of the first steps taken when I set out to get my private pilots license – the PPL

Discovery Flight

Shortly after taking my Discovery Flight, I decided I was interested in pursuing the license and I was really impressed with my flight instructor  – so there was no looking back – I decided to get my started on my PPL.

Ground School – February 2010

I finally started ground school at Edmonton City Center Airport (CYXD) – after much research, deliberation and anxiety.

Was I ready to commit to learning to fly?  It’s intense, and it’s expensive.  You have to be willing to commit time and resources to this.  It’s going to require not only money, but a lot of concentration and mental resources.  You will have to study lots and be prepared to take time out of your schedule to commit to fly.  To take the flight test for PPL, Transport Canada requires that a student have 45 hours total, of which, 5 hours may be completed on a simulator. At least 17 hours must be dual instruction and you will need 12 hours solo time.  For details, check Transport Canada’s regulations.

You should budget close to $10,000 for the PPL.   It will take longer (more flying hours) the more breaks you take. So if you can, be prepared to have the finances and the time to be able to do the license as fast as possible – flying 2 to 3 times per week, if you can.  Consistency is everything when you are learning. If you are happy with your instructor, I recommend not switching instructors, and not switching airports or schools (unless you have to, like I did, during a move). I received this advice when I started, but knowing that I wouldn’t be able to commit to going regularly, foreseeing that I would likely have some breaks,  I decided to pursue it anyway.  I’ve had to take lots of breaks during my license, and I even had to switch home airports and instructors – all which cost me more training hours in the end. However, I am interested in obtaining a commercial license eventually, and am not trying to finish my PPL in minimum hours, so I decided I was okay with it. And really, once I was into to (it didn’t take long) I didn’t want to stop, I just love to fly.

I have always been infatuated with airplanes, and flight in general.  I’ve flown in bush planes several times so I had no misconceptions about how loud and old some of them were – it didn’t bother me at all.  I find all airplanes fascinating, and like most pilots, am just obsessed with flying and anything flying.

Here is the account about my first training flight

Ground School – Winter 2010

I was still in graduate school at University of Alberta when I signed up for ground school.  Ground school costs about as much as a graduate level course at the University, and you get 60 hours of instruction in various topics.

The courses are revolving and ongoing so a topic is repeated in cycles.  Each school has a different price, however generally they will be in the $500-$700 range, depending on the school and if you buy their study materials, or ground school “kit.”  You can purchase the materials yourself somewhere else, however it’s likely that you won’t save enough money from buying it elsewhere to justify the inconvenience of having to collect the materials yourself.

The fee for ground school generally gets you a year of instruction in these courses, so if you miss a course, or are away for a period of time, you can easily pick up the courses later.  It takes just over 2 months, at my school, if you’re going constantly to each class.  This means that if you missed a course, you can pick it up again in just over 2 months time, depending on the schedule for that particular school.  You can repeat as many classes as you need.  Generally for the private level the courses are in the evenings, twice a week.   This depends on the flight school for their particular schedule.   My flight school, Centennial Flight Center , offered private ground school Tuesday and Thursday nights from 7 to 9 pm.

My flight school selection was fairly simple.  A year or so earlier, when I began looking at flight schools in the Edmonton area, I came across two flying out of CYXD.  The first school I contacted was Edmonton Flying Club (EFC), where I booked my very first “fam” or familiarization flight.  This is a discounted, introductory flight that is offered by every flight school so you can try out the school, see what their planes and instructors are like, and how they generally run their school to see if you feel comfortable there or not.  You will be spending a lot of time with your instructor, in that classroom and in the aircraft, and costs as well, so you want to make sure you chose carefully!   It’s an important first decision.

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2 thoughts on “How I got started with my private pilots license

  1. I’m interested to take a pilot private license, I’m wondering how is it works to pay the fees. In other words do I would be able to pay monthly payments or I have to pay it all at once. I’m also permenent resident not Canadian citizens.

    1. Hi Sam, most flight schools require you to pay as you go for your flight training. Good luck!

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