Lets Get Started
The following information is intended to answer the most common questions about getting started in flight training, and to help you to get the most out of the training process.
THE MEDICAL EXAM
Prior to commencing your flight training, you must have a medical exam. This exam is at your own expense. The type of medical exam depends on the type of licence you are training for;
For the Recreational Pilot Permit, you must have a category 4 medical. To get this, a medical declaration form must be signed by a doctor (any GP will do), and then sent to Transport Canada. (We have the medical declaration forms; please ask for one.) Your regular family doctor can sign the medical declaration. If you are over 40, an electrocardiogram will be required.
For the Private Pilot Licence, a category 3 medical is required. A medical exam must be done by a Civil Aviation Medical Examiner. There are several in Whitehorse. See the list below. The doctor has the required forms for you to fill out. After your medical exam is complete, the doctor will send the report to Transport Canada in Edmonton, after which you will be issued a Medical Certificate. This process can take 4 to 6 weeks.
For the Commercial Pilot Licence, a category 1 medical is required. If you are planning on training for this licence, it is best to get the category 1 medical rather than the category 3 medical prior to starting your Private Pilot training.
De La Mare, E.A.
BOOKS AND MATERIALS
Before your first flying lesson, you should purchase the kit of books and materials. This package contains all of the books and equipment that you will need for your training. It is best to purchase the kit in advance, as you will be asked to do some reading before your first lesson.
MAKING A BOOKING
Please call Whitehorse Air Services at 456-2828 to book your first lesson. A couple of days notice is all we generally require, although during particularly busy times, you may need to book your lessons a week or more in advance. Bookings for regular lessons are 2 hours in length, with about one hour in the air.
PREPARATION FOR YOUR LESSON
In preparation for each flying lesson, you will be given material to read, generally from the Flight Training Manual and Pilot’s Operating Handbook. It is very important that you read this material, as it relates directly to the upcoming lesson. This will make the lesson more meaningful. In addition, proper preparation is a very effective way to keep the cost of your flight training down. As you read the required material, write down any questions that you may have so that you may ask your instructor at your next lesson. You will be discussing what you have read with your instructor prior to each flight.
Please bring all of your books and materials to each lesson, as well as a notebook, pencil, and a pocket sized notepad for use in the airplane.
Each flying lesson is preceded by a review of the previous lesson, and a brief discussion of new material to be covered. Be prepared to answer procedural (how-to) questions about maneuvers learned during previous lessons, as well as to discuss your reading assignment for the current lesson.
At this time you will sign the aircraft out, proceed to the aircraft and go flying. For a typical lesson, you will be in the air for about one hour, during which you will practice previously learned maneuvers, followed by new material.
After the flight, there will be a short discussion of items covered in the air. Reading and review material for the next lesson will be assigned.
For the flying portion of your lesson, you will be charged by the hour (to the nearest tenth of an hour) for the aircraft and instructor, as indicated by the hour meter in the aircraft.
For pre and post flight briefings, you will be charged by the hour for the instructor.
GST will be added to the bill. (Commercial licence and instructor rating training is GST exempt.)
At the beginning of your training, you will be charged for groundschool and books.
We accept Visa, Mastercard, debit cards, cash and checks. For current rates please ask your instructor.
The groundschool course covers the academic side of your training, and is intended to supply you with the knowledge required to pass the final written exam with Transport Canada. You will learn about navigation, meteorology, regulations, aircraft systems etc. The course takes place on Wednesday evenings from 6:30 to 9:30 in the classroom above the office. You should bring all of your books and materials to each class, as well as a notebook and pencil. The course lasts for about 60 hours, or about 20 weeks. You may start at any time during the course, and continue attending until you pass the final exam. For students from the communities or who are otherwise unable to attend the groundschool course, we will arrange a course of self-study that will satisfy the groundschool requirement. You may have to purchase additional books for this. Alternatively, there are several on-line groundschool courses available in Canada.
It is expected that you will be doing flight training and groundschool concurrently. Attending groundschool with the intention of doing flight training at a later date is not recommended.
AVIATION LANGUAGE PROFICIENCY TEST
Since March 2008, all licensed pilots and new students are required to pass a test demonstrating proficiency in English. There is an examiner on staff. A fee is charged for this. Students whose first language is not English should speak to the examiner for an unofficial assessment before commencing training, as some language upgrading may be necessary.
Average students will be ready for solo flight after about 15 hours of flight training. Before you go solo, you will need to have a Student Pilot Permit. We will issue the Student Pilot Permit as soon as you have met all of the following requirements:
Obtain a minimum of 90% on the pre-solo (PSTAR) written exam. See the link below for the study guide. The exam is written in our office. There is no fee.
Write the exam for the Restricted Radiotelephone Operator’s Certificate. See the link below. The exam is written in our office. There is no fee.
Be in possession of a Medical Certificate or Medical Declaration (see The Medical Exam, above).
Have obtained the necessary skill level to go solo.
Supply us with a birth certificate or valid passport to verify age and citizenship.
There is no fee for the issue of the Student Pilot Permit.
TRANSPORT CANADA PUBLICATIONS
Download and print the following documents:
For all student pilots:
For those seeking the Recreational Pilot Permit:
For those seeking the Private Pilot Licence:
For those with a Private Pilot Licence, starting training for the Commercial Pilot Licence:
Please try to give us 24 hours notice if you have to cancel your lesson. If you fail to show up for your lesson without advance notice or a Really Good Reason, you will be charged a $50 no-show fee. Weather-related cancellations are exempt from this fee.
One of the best ways to save money in flight training is to be prepared. This means coming to your lesson rested, fed, undistracted and having read the assigned material.
Another way to save money is to fly often. Several times a week is best, as recently learned material will still be fresh in your mind. If your lessons are weeks apart, a larger portion of each lesson will be spent in review.
After each flight, go home and mentally review the flight. Sit in a chair in a quiet place and visualize yourself doing the maneuvers. This visualization of going through the motions is a more effective form of review than explaining the maneuver to yourself in words.
Many maneuvers that you will learn are procedural. You must spend the necessary time at home rehearsing and memorizing these procedures.
Write down any questions that you have, and bring them to the attention of your instructor at your next lesson. If you can’t wait, please feel free to call the office at any time.
If you have any concerns about how your flight training is progressing, please ask. Please don’t try to compare your progress with that of other students. Each of us learns at our own rate and in a slightly different way from everyone else. Comparison with others is not a valid way to assess your progress.
Since flight training is a hands-on endeavour, you will learn by doing. You will be given full control of the airplane very early in your training. It is important that you fly the aircraft as independently as you can, even though you may feel you lack the required skill level. We will not let you hurt anything and will guide you as required, but will try to fade into the background as we can.
Remember that YOU are the boss of the airplane, not the other way around. You are NOT going for an airplane ride. Fly assertively and positively.
Do not neglect the academic side of flight training. Set aside time equal to flight training time to keep up with studying for groundschool, the various exams, and the assorted knowledge areas associated with flight preparation as will be assigned to you throughout the course.
All flying is suspended at -25˚ aloft or on the ground.
Groundschool classes are cancelled if the temperature on the 3 pm METAR is -35˚ or below.
Students from the communities may experience some differences in their flight training.
While it is best to spread lessons evenly over time, this may not be possible in this case. Students who fly frequently over a period of a few days and then return home for weeks or months can expect to spend a bit more, as some review flights will be necessary after a period of time off.
Whitehorse Air Services does not provide accommodation or an accommodation referral service.
We will attempt to give booking priority to students attending from out of town, provided a few weeks notice is given.
When in town, groundschool classes should be attended. As the groundschool course is 5 months long, a great deal of self study will be required to make up for classes not attended. This has not proved to be a problem for most students. Alternatively, there are some Canadian on-line groundschool courses which will do in a pinch.
FLIGHT TRAINING MYTHS
1. “If I log 45 hours in the airplane, someone will hand me a pilot’s licence.”
The truth: There is MUCH MORE to obtaining a licence that logging the required minimum hours. First, the average completion time at Whitehorse Air Services is 57 hours. (This is well under the national average.) In addition, each hour in the airplane is accompanied by another hour of pre and post flight preparation, briefing and debriefing, and yet another hour of self study for review and preparation. Then there is 60 hours of groundschool. Each hour of groundschool is accompanied by another hour of self study. So the mythical 45 hour figure has now become 291 hours. Add to this the study and preparation time for both the flight test and written exam, the “final polish” if you like, and the total time commitment is more like 300 hours.
2. “If I fly 2 hours a day, I’ll get my licence in 23 days.”
The truth: See #1 above. If you can spare 2 hours a day, count on 150 days plus weather delays. If you spend 8 hours a day at the flying school, count on 8 weeks plus weather delays.
3. “Once I am ready to go solo, I’ll just fly around and log hours.”
The truth: All solo flights are supervised, closely monitored and occur at set times during the course. You will log only 12 hours of solo during the course.
4. “My friend/relative who is an airplane owner will show me how to fly. Then I just need an instructor to sign off my hours.” Or “Then I will be WAY ahead.”
The truth: Flight training time cannot be logged in this fashion. It will not count toward the licence. Our experience is that this type of flying results in many misconceptions, bad habits, incorrect procedures and pet theories which have to be unlearned, resulting in a net loss rather that a net gain.
In addition, your friend/relative is providing an illegal service and could face a fine or a licence suspension.
5: “If I buy an airplane, I’ll save $$$$.”
The truth: You may be right, if you buy a small simple unmodified aircraft in good shape with no issues. Check with us before you buy. Many types of aircraft are not suitable trainers. Also, many aircraft which would otherwise be suitable are ill-equipped for training. We have a list of standards and requirements for owner-supplied aircraft. An aircraft which is perfectly fine for private flying may cost significant funds to bring it up to standards for flight training. Also, one unexpected repair bill can wipe out your gain. In addition:
- We will not fly homebuilt or ultralight aircraft.
- We charge more for instructor time on student-supplied aircraft.
- We give booking priority to company aircraft.
6: “If I borrow my friend’s airplane, I’ll save $$$$.”
The truth: We cannot provide training on third party aircraft.
7. “The written exam is impossibly difficult.”
The truth: It isn’t. It’s just a necessary evil. Everyone does it, and everyone passes. (The pass rate for students at Whitehorse Air Services is 100%.) You will be well prepared and will have written several practice exams before you attempt the real thing. Just set aside the necessary study time. The questions are multiple choice, and there is no math, physics or engineering knowledge required, just normal reading and comprehension skills.