To learn to fly and to get get a pilot licence you’ll need a medical certificate.
In the old days, pre-COVID, at the beginning of their training every student would go and visit a Civil Aviation Medical Examiner (CAME) and be prodded poked and quizzed for a Category 3 medical certificate, which is what you need for a PPL. The CAME would send their report to Transport Canada and about a month later the certificate would arrive, well in time for the student’s first solo flight, which is the first time they actually need their own medical certificate.
Sadly, because of COVID and other factors the delays with Transport Canada’s processing of Category 3 medicals are very long – sometimes many months. This is longer than it takes most students to reach a solo standard – but they can’t start to fly on their own without the medical certificate. So their training gets delayed.
Therefore at present, I recommend students initially apply for a category 4 medical certificate. A category 4 medical certificate will still permit you to fly solo, and it’s much quicker to arrive. You can apply for the category 3 medical certificate after the catgegory 4 medical certificate is issued.
To get a category 4 medical certificate fill out and print this form:
Tick the box near the top marked “student pilot permit” “aeroplane”.
Take it to your family doctor and have them fill out part C. Then after your introductory lesson email it to me, or directly to firstname.lastname@example.org. At present it should take about a month for the category 4 certificate to arrive.
Prior to the pandemic I used to have a headset for students to use, so you didn’t need to buy your own. Sharing a headset is not a wise thing any more, so students will have to provide their own, even for their very first lesson.
Headsets divide broadly into two types: regular, and noise-cancelling. The regular ones have foam or gel seals around the ear cups to try to keep out the airplane noise. Noise cancelling ones do too, but they also play “anti-noise” into your ears to muffle the engine and airplane sounds further. I strongly recommend that you get a noise cancelling headset. Small airplanes are noisy and that makes it difficult to concentrate and to learn. A noise cancelling headset will provide a better learning environment for you.
If you want a regular headset look at the David Clark H10-13.4, which used to be the industry standard. They last a lifetime.
If you want a noise cancelling headset there are a few options. The premium choices come from Bose (A20) and Lightspeed (Zulu PFX and Zulu 3). The budget options for noise-cancelling are the Lightspeed Sierra and the David Clark DC PRO-X2.
You can find all these models and many more at, for example, Aircraft Spruce, in Brantford (if you want a drive or to order online) or a couple of pilot supplies stores on Carlingview Drive (adjacent to Pearson Airport): Threshold Aviation and AvWorld. Hammond Aviation at the airport in London, ON, also has headsets.
Occasionally I have students ask about the Bose QC35 with a uFlyMike adapter. This is not acceptable for solo flight: unlike a real aviation headset it will stop working entirely if the battery goes flat, and is nowhere near robust enough for General Aviation use. Get a proper headset intended for the purpose. However, if you are feeling really brave and experimental, try one of these headsets from China, and let me know if it’s any good.
Whichever headset you get, make sure it has “dual GA” plugs, not the helicopter or panel-powered options if they’re available.
While you’re waiting for lessons you should sign up for an online ground school. Attendance at a formal ground school is required for a Private Pilot Licence, and both of these options will provide you with the necessary certificate stating that you have completed the course when you’ve finished your studies:
Other things to buy
There are some other bits and pieces to purchase around the same time as starting lessons. You won’t need them immediately, but you’ll want them soon.
- The Flight Training Manual. You can download the PDF but I recommend a printed copy.
- A personal log book, in which you keep a record of all your flights. I recommend this one.
- Charts – for flying around here, you’ll want a copy of both the Toronto Visual Navigation Chart (VNC) and VTA (VFR Terminal Area) charts. You can get them from Hammond Aviation too, or the same places that have headsets.
- An E6B flight computer. This is more of a ground-school item, but you’ll need it for preparing cross country flights later in your training.