What it takes to become a Sport Pilot








      Flying is an experience that transcends everyday life. Ask pilots why they fly and watch as their eyes go distant. For just a moment, they’ll be airborne before they come back to the ground, refocus their attention, and answer your question.


      What does it take to become a pilot? Here are the basic requirements to earn the simplest pilot certificate available, an ultra-light pilot permit.   First you will need to meet the following criteria: Be 16 years old to become a student pilot Be able to read, write and understand the English language. Have completed and signed a medical declaration. Beyond that nothing is stopping you from becoming a sport pilot. 



      The next big step to becoming a pilot is selecting a certificated flight instructor (CFI). You’ll need to make sure you or your instructor have access to an aircraft. Most students rent the aircraft they train in from either their instructor or the flight school that the instructor works with. 


      Along the path to becoming a pilot, you’ll have to pass some tests to verify your aviation knowledge and skills. Transport Canada Civil Aviation has the responsibility to assure that no one will be allowed to fly until he or she can safely act as pilot in command.


      There are two knowledge tests required, one is called the ULTRA which is a written test consisting of 80 multiple choice questions.  You must score 60 % or better to pass. Before you can take the test you’ll need to prepare by taking a class called “ground school”.  Students can take ULTRA after having completed half of the required flight time but before your final test - the practical “flight test”. The knowledge test ULTRA is valid for two years; you have two years after you’ve passed the test to complete your “flight test". You will also be required to take a pre-solo written multiple choice test consisting of 30 - 50 questions depending upon the type of aircraft you are training on.  You must score 90% corrected to 100% before flying solo. 


      Now, you’ll need to complete the appropriate training and meet the minimum number of training hours for the type of ultra-light pilot permit you are seeking. That training time includes; the time flown, with your CFI (dual instruction), and the time that you fly the aircraft alone (solo). 


      During dual instruction, your CFI will be on board the aircraft and will train you in all the necessary skills required to pilot the aircraft, and be there to keep you out of trouble. 


      Before going solo you must get a student pilot permit, which your instructor will explain how to obtain. This permit is issued by either a Transport Canada Aviation district office or an authorized person at the flight school. The student permit is free from Transport Canada (TC) but there is a fee for processing by the school TC authorized person. The student pilot permit is good for two years. 


      Once you have a student pilot permit, at the appropriate time your instructor will have you fly the aircraft solo. This will be the first time you fly the aircraft with no one else on board. This is a milestone in your life that you will never forget. Ask pilots about their first solo flight and watch their eyes light up all over again. Now that you’ve soloed, you’re well on your way to becoming a pilot.  Your instructor will supervise the rest of your solo work so that you accomplish specific goals and tasks, like a solo cross-country flight.


      After you complete the minimum flight times and have demonstrated to your instructor that you’re ready to be a Pilot, he or she will give you an endorsement to take the Transport Canada practical “flight test”.   A flight test consists of two parts:  an oral test and a flight test.  You must be successful at both to pass.   The examiner will follow the Transport Canada “Flight Test Guide Ultra-light Aeroplane”. You will be issued a copy when practicing for the test. 

      Although the flight test may seem intimidating, your instructor won’t endorse you to take the flight test unless you are ready. After you successfully pass the practical test, the examiner will issue you an ultra-light pilot permit and you may now fly as an ultra-light pilot and take a passenger along when so endorsed. 


      Although pilot training and testing may present hurdles along the way, the end result is that you will become a competent pilot, ready to fly with friends and loved ones as passengers.  



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Western Aviation Services Ltd.             info@westav.ca            Grand Forks, BC, Canada