Frequently Asked Questions

Question? Why should I become a member of the Rockcliffe Flying Club?


RFC has many advantages for learning to fly and is a great place to meet people.

The Rockcliffe airport is small enough that it is easy to learn to fly in a environment where there is not the stress and traffic of a large airport, yet is close enough to medium to large airports to provide all the practice locations you need. We like to give individual attention to students and tailor the training program to their needs. We offer a full range of general aviation training programs. Our graduates have an enviable reputation throughout the industry. We offer training in english and in french (flight training only for the moment).

As a club, Rockcliffe welcomes new members and provides them with many opportunities to fly with more seasoned pilots to hone their skills.

Question? I have a physical disability. Can I be a pilot?


Well, it depends on your disability, but as long as you can control the aircraft in expected situations, it is possible. Your aviation medical examiner will determine this, perhaps with some specialized tests. There are websites that provide some information on the subject, for example:

Question? I am not really good at math or science. Can I become a pilot?


Sure. You need to take ground school and pass an exam. We'll teach you all the science you need to know. The math required is simple and we'll teach you that too.

Question? I wear glasses: can I become a pilot?


Sure! As long as your glasses or contact lenses correct your vision to the required degree. Your medical exam will confirm whether your eyesight is OK.

Question? Can I become a pilot?


Very likely! People of all ages are taking up flying as a hobby or a career. Both men and women are realizing their dream of flight. Our youngest student is 15, our oldest is 72. One of the best parts is meeting a lot of people who like to fly and travel together. Minimum age to get your recreational pilot permit is 16. But you can start your training as early as 14. Maximum age? There is no maximum age. Some people fly into their 70s or 80s. It depends on your medical condition.

Question? Can I rent aircraft, or do I need to own one?


During your training, you will most likely rent an aircraft from our club. We have two different types of aircraft: Cessna 150 (2 seater) and Cessna 172 (4 seater). Once you have your licence, you can continue to rent or you can buy an aircraft. Another popular solution is fractional ownership: you buy an aircraft with friends or buy into an existing partnership that owns an aircraft. Many people find this the most affordable solution and one that distributes the cost of maintenance of the aircraft. The club helps members get together to buy aircraft as a group and will provide guidance on the process.

When you rent an aircraft, you only pay for the time the engine is running, not the time you actually have the aircraft. So, if you decide to fly somewhere, you won't be charged for the time the aircraft is sitting on the ground while you are visiting. For longer rentals, some daily minimums may apply.

Question? Is flying single engine aircraft safe? I keep hearing about accidents or near accidents?


Passenger mile for mile, single engine general aviation aircraft have 5 times less accidents than automobiles. Pilot training emphasizes safety as its first priority. You not only get trained on flying the aircraft, but how to act in case of emergency. Flying requires very different skills than driving a car, and our programme will teach you all these skills.

Question? When do I start flying?


You start flying on your introductory lesson. This first lesson is intended to familiarize you with the sensations of flying in a small aircraft and start showing you how to fly the aircraft. Don't worry, you won't be expected to land the aircraft by yourself on your first lesson! Here is what one member thought of his Intro flight.

The initial portion of your flight training will be with an instructor (this is called dual) and then by yourself (solo). As you acquire flying skills, your instructor will let you do more and more of the flying.

Some people start ground school first, before starting to fly. This can be done, but you get more out of the ground school if you have a few hours of dual flying first.

Question? I have heard that it costs a lot of money to learn to fly? How long does it take?


You can see in our information sheets that learning to fly is not free, but if you put it in the context of other high end hobbies (like golf or boating) or the cost of a professional education, it is not very expensive. Unlike many other programs, you don't need to put the money up front. You pay as you go and determine the speed of your own training. This minimizes the financial risk to you.

Here are some things you can do to reduce your costs:

  • flying as often as possible. While the average flying time that a pilot takes to get a Private Pilot Licence across Canada is between 60 and 70 hours, people that fly every day (and have the right basic skills) can get their licence in the Transport Canada minimum hours. The more often you fly, the less you forget between lessons.
  • using a Cessna 150 instead of a 172 costs less
  • if you plan to do your Commercial Pilot Licence to earn money, then keep your PPL receipts: they are income tax deductible once you start the CPL.
  • go fly with others: it is amazing what you can pick up in the right seat or even the back seat in terms of procedures, radio communications, etc. This will speed up your own progress.


Question? I know someone who would be interested in learning to fly, how can I help/encourage them?


You have a friend, spouse, other family member interested in learning to fly? Two ideas:

  • buy them an Introductory Lesson gift certificate. This will give them their first lesson. Just call the club (613 746 4425). You can schedule the flight directly at the time you buy the certificate or let the recipient schedule it later. If you schedule it ahead and the weather is not good that day, we will gladly reschedule the flight.
  • offer them Chris Hobbs' book Learning to Fly in Canada. You can buy this book at the club or in Chapters. Chris is an instructor at the club, and he provides an entertaining and realistic picture of what it takes to learn to fly in Canada.

Question? I am afraid of heights! I would be really scared to fly in a little airplane.


Actually, a lot of pilots are afraid of heights. Even after taking their flight training, they would much rather be sitting in a nice safe airplane than standing on a balcony, a bridge or even a stepladder. You can fall off those things!

Flying in small aircraft is different than in large jetliners. They are lighter and smaller, so they tend to be more sensitive to wind effects. However, you get a panoramic view of the world from above and the sense of freedom is incredible. You very quickly forget any initial feelings.

Question? If I learn to fly, can I carry passengers right away?


Once you have your permit or licence, you can carry passengers. During your training, you will be flying with an instructor or by yourself (after your first solo).

With a Recreational Pilot Permit, you can carry 1 passenger. With a Private Pilot Licence, you can carry as many passengers as is permitted in the aircraft for which you are rated to fly (typically 3 passengers in a 4 seat aircraft).

Question? What are all these ratings I am reading about?


The initial permit or licence you get (recreational permit or private licence) allows you to fly and carry passengers during the day, under "Visual Flight Rules" (VFR) which means that you must be able to see the ground and around you so you can navigate visually.

To fly at night (defined as 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise) you need to get further qualification which is "night rating".

To fly when you can't see the ground or around you due to weather conditions, you need an IFR rating (Instrument Flight Rules). With this, you can fly through cloud, above cloud, and in other poor visibility conditions, within certain limits for takeoff and landing.

There is also another rating which is part way towards IFR and that is called VFR OTT or Visual Flight Rules Over the Top. This allows you to fly over cloud, even if you can't see the ground, during your trip, as long as you are able to see the ground at your departure and destination.

Float rating allows you to fly float planes.

All these ratings require additional briefing and flight training time. These are detailed in our training information sheets.

Question? If I have a problem seeing some colours, can I still be a pilot?


Yes.  You will have to complete a colour spectrum eye exam (Farnworth D15 exam) which your Canadian Aviation Medical Examiner will direct you to complete.  These exams are available at most optometrists.