Aviation Medical (June 30, 2009)

As you probably know all pilots need to meet certain medical criteria, so before I can get my license or go solo I have to prove I can meet those criteria. They’re not difficult for general aviation, trickier for commercial pilots.

So June 30th I had my Aviation Medical done here in Toronto. It was a simple half hour appointment where they take height, weight, a medical history and the usual please deposit in this cup test. All in all a simple procedure.

I had the Class III medical done, which is what is needed for a private pilot. I spoke to the doctor about the Class I medical, and he told me that since I didn’t want to do this for a living he’d check me over and let me know if I would pass that at the same time, but without the fees and greater difficulty of maintaining a Class I. So he did most of the other checks except for the ECG that is required for the Class I. Apparently I’d be fine.

So a couple of weeks later I got my medical certificate through the post. Felt strange looking at it as this was the first piece of paper I had on my goal to getting my license. Then I notice the name, Benjaman. Not how you spell my name, Benjamin. Then I notice the date of birth; the year is wrong.

So next day, I speak with the nice people in licensing at Transport Canada and end up faxing a copy of the certificate along with ID through to them. Amazingly only three days later I get my corrected replacement certificate through the post. Who says Canadian bureaucracy is slow.

Cost: $125.

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New Blog Format

Due to technical reasons I’ve decided to move my blog from Blogspot to WordPress here. The other one just wasn’t working out, and since it was new I could easily move the entire blog. So going forward this WordPress one will be the place to read, not Blogspot.

First Steps: Choices (Early 2009)

Once I’d made the decision to finally take up the flight training I’d always wanted to do, the next step was how do I go about doing it? First step, Google is your friend.

What did we do before the internet? I remember having to go to the library to spend hours looking up the most basic information, and now everything is at your fingertips. Hasn’t the world changed. The internet is possibly the single most socially impacting revolution to impact mankind since the development of writing. Maybe.

Anyway. I live in downtown Toronto, and I don’t have a car, so that limits me on where I can learn to fly. It has to be within walking distance, or easily accessible by public transit. As luck would have it I actually have an airport within walking distance.

Toronto City Centre Airport, CYTZ, located here, at the heart of Toronto’s bustling waterfront. A nice little airport, easily accessible for myself, with two flying schools and a lot of activity.

The airport is home base for Porter Airlines, who fly from Toronto City Centre to various locations in Canada and the United States. It is a bustling private aviation airport as well as a base for Ornge the Ontario air ambulance. As a result they have busy airspace, Air Traffic Control and various sized aircraft coming and going throughout the hours of operation. While many people learn to fly out of local community aerodromes, with little to no ATC, and no commercial operations, my circumstances dictated I’d have to learn straight into a busy high volume environment. Still, I thought, it would serve me well. Though I’m still trying to convince myself of that one 🙂

So airport has been chosen for me. Next up, school. As mentioned earlier there are two schools on the island, so I had to choose between them. This wasn’t so easy a decision. Both were reputable companies with their own pros and cons. I spend many a day searching the internet for people’s opinions on both companies, and checking up on the aircraft they had. I had decided to learn in a Cessna 172. Larger than the 150 or 152 many learn in, but the most popular aircraft in the world. I figured I may as well learn in the plane I’m most likely going to be able to hire and fly elsewhere at other airports as we travel around.

Looking up the prices of both schools there where in the same rough ballpark. Plane costs, instructor costs, ground school etc. However the commentary in online forums and the like pushed me slightly towards the one I choose, Canadian Flyers. Honestly there wasn’t much between them, but I made my choice and to this point I haven’t regretted it.

So having finally made my choice, I plucked up the courage and headed down there. April 24th 2009. I went to the office, spoke with the staff down there, and put my money down for the Ground School class and the Ground School Kit.

Private Pilot Ground School Course: $380

Ground School Course Kit (books etc): $245

Plus taxes. Total cost $661.75

And that was it, my first payment towards my future hobby/money haemorrhaging endeavour. I also booked my Fam (Familiarisation) Flight at the same time. Tuesday 28th April would be my first time in such a small aircraft. My first time behind the controls. My first flight in a long course.

Learning to Fly

For many years I’ve wanted to learn to fly. To soar above it all in a plane, free to go where I want. Of course as you get older you realise that not all your dreams can come true, however flying was always one I held onto.

Those who know me know that I originally hail from the UK, but now live in Canada. Now in the UK flying is expensive. Yes I know it’s expensive in Canada too, but in the UK it’s EXPENSIVE. Up to three times the cost it is over here. I’ve known for a long time that I wanted to move to Canada and was going to be moving to Canada, so the thought struck me that maybe I should hold off learning to fly until I got to Canada. Move it from EXPENSIVE to just expensive.

So basically that’s what I did. I put the dream of flying on hold for years, while pursuing the dream of emigrating to the new world.

And now I’m here.

So where does this blog come in? Well there are many people out there that want to learn to fly or at least have an interest in it, but really don’t know a lot about the process, costs and the like. So the purpose of this is to chronicle my journey through student pilotship, and make it clear what everything is every step of the way.

Now I’ve been doing this for a few months now, so I’ll have to go back in time and start off at the beginning for it all to make sense. Now, looking back (even though I’ve only got 11.2 hours at time of writing), I’ve learnt a lot so maybe I can impart a bit more knowledge into it.

This isn’t a “How to learn to fly” guide, it’s simply my experiences, but along the way I aim to hold nothing from you. I’ll give you exactly all the costs, problems, trials and tribulations. The highs, the lows and the downright scary.