In the sky, there aren’t any roads limiting where you can go. When flying a plane, where you go is up to you.
It’s like a Sunday drive, “except you can go a lot further and see a lot more,” says Sarah LaPrise, the chief flight instructor at the Greenwood Flight Centre. The Centre is located about 75 minutes from Halifax at the King’s County Municipal Airport in Cambridge.
It is one of two schools in the province where people can study to get a pilot’s licence in their spare time. The other school is the Debert Flight Centre, located about 75 minutes from Halifax.
Brian Tobin, 26, is a student at the school. “It’s scary at first and you learn to love it after that,” he says of flying. “Once you’ve done it once, you’re hooked.”
Tobin describes it as a surreal experience: “If you look down, everything kind of looks like a picture at first. Cars look like dinkies and people look like ants. Houses look like toys.”
LaPrise likes the freedom involved. “You get to go where you want to go,” she says.
Transport Canada regulates aviation licensing and training in Canada. Requirements such as age and the amount of training involved vary depending on the type of pilot licence a person is seeking.
There are two options for someone looking to get a licence in their spare time. There is the recreational pilot permit (RPP) and a private pilot licence (PPL). Basically, there are a lot more restrictions with the RPP, such as not being able to fly out of country and you can only have one person flying with you. The cost is also much cheaper, around $7,000 versus $12,000.
For the PPL, Transport Canada requires people be at least 17 years of age. They will need to complete 45 hours of flight training and at least 40 hours of “ground school,” where topics such as meteorology, aerodynamics and theory of flight must be covered.
The RPP involves 25 hours of flight training, no ground school, and people need to be at least 16 years of age.
LaPrise says it takes most people three months to a year to finish training for a PPL.
“It really depends on how much they’re willing to put in,” LaPrise says.
She recommends flying two to three times per week, but says that can be tricky to accomplish because of the weather.