18 May 2017

AFTER FLIGHT Episode 1: The Secret to Become An Aerobatic World Champion by Patrick Paris

Welcome to Air Navigation Pro’s first podcast episode. We’re venturing out into the podcast scene to bring you insights and inspirational stories from aviation leaders and experts all over the world.

For our first episode, joining us is Patrick Paris to talk more about his life in aviation.

Press PLAY to listen to the podcast or read the transcript below.


So Patrick, thank you for joining us and accepting our invitation. Maybe we could start by you telling us a story about how you first fell in love with aviation and how you started your journey.

P: It’s my pleasure to talk to you. I started flying while I was in the air force. I joined the air force when I was quite young like 16 years old. And then I started to fly—my first plane was a Cap10. It was a two-seater plane specialized in aerobatics. And then I moved on to a fouga magister, which is a twin jet engine. And then I tried a T33. After that, I became a flight instructor, on the fugar for 5 years, and after this, I joined the "Equipe de Voltige" which is a special team specialized in aerobatics, with Cap10 and all the series of Cap.

What age did you start flying your own plane?

P: It was back in ’73 so I was 18 or 19 years old when I started to fly the Cap10 right after the fugar.

Did you find an interest in flying when you joined the air force or was that attraction to flying ignited even before then?

P: In fact, I was really a fan of aviation. Before I joined the air force, back in the 60’s, 70’s sometimes watching air shows live and on TV (which was quite seldom to see), but when I had the opportunity to see for example the "Patrouille de France" making a show and so on, it was really something exciting for me. And also I had practiced gymnastics when I was young and I think gymnastics and aerobatics are quite similar somehow.

Yes, with all the tumbling right? Laughs*

P: Yes, exactly.

So maybe you can tell us your most memorable flying experience as a new pilot.

P:  Actually, of course, the first solo flying in the fugar was quite impressive for sure even though the formation was quite good, it’s always a bit kind of scary to fly the first solo. This was quite impressive for me.

And also, I remember when I was flying the T33, this kind of plane was normally navigating at like 30,000 - 35,000 feet above and during the flight by night sometimes with a very clear sky, I was flying over the city of "Tours", which is the west part of France. And I have the map below me, you know the map of the west part of France below me and this was a very nice picture.

Yes, we’re sure. Which views do you most enjoy when flying? Do you have a favourite flying destination? Is it in mountainous areas or is it above oceans?

P: I prefer to fly near the oceans because I am more used to it and even though now I am living quite close to the mountains I know that flying in the mountains would require you to know really well all the weather conditions and so on. And it’s kind of tricky if you are not born in the mountains. So yes, I prefer to fly near the sea to watch the coast and so on.

Among your experiences, what was the most challenging? Do you have a particular memory wherein it was the hardest part of being a pilot?

P: Being a pilot was quite okay for me but then when I started to compete in aerobatics, of course, I realized that even though my goal was to become world champion it took me 19 years to get this title.

I have plenty of training, it was not the reason why I didn’t succeed but I saw that after a few years in aerobatics, I reached a level where I was at the top 5 in the world championship and I saw in myself that there was something wrong in my thinking and the way I prepared for the flights or how I managed with the stress and so on.

So I started to practice mental preparation. And then finally, back in ’98 I became world champion. But it was quite challenging because for at least the last 10 years before this title, every year I got to go again and again to compete with and fight with the young guys who were quite eager to win as well so it was really challenging.

Wow, that is really a testimony about working hard to achieve your dream. Like 19 years of never giving up, that’s very inspiring.

When you won world champion, what do you think made the difference? Why do you think you won that time?

P: I think it was really a question of mental strategy, you know. In the past maybe I was scared to win. It’s hard to explain. I think after a few sessions of mental preparation, I realized that I was not really focusing on winning the contest in my mind. So I managed to switch it and I won!

But of course, it also includes a little luck. Depending on when you fly, depending on the drawing of lots, the weather condition and so on, compared to all the competitors. Sometimes you are lucky because you fly with very good conditions. And the other times, you are supposed to fly with strong winds. There is a little part of luck. You need a little luck to win as well.

Yes, it’s like a combination of mind over matter plus luck.

P: This is the part you cannot deal with. Sometimes you have luck, sometimes you don’t. But there are plenty of topics you can work on like physical training, relaxation, and so on. These you can improve but if you don’t have enough luck on the day of the competition and if you’ve done your best to get ready, maybe you won’t win. That’s life.

Did things change after winning the world championship? Like what opportunities or what new ventures were you able to go into after that?

P: I was really willing to carry on after the competition but I had medical problems where I had to stop flying for a bit and then I started coaching. Now my main job is to train and coach aerobatic pilots. Some of them are competing, some of them are doing air show displays and so on.

So did you start your aerobatics training company after you won the world championship? When did that start?

P: Actually, I was already a flight instructor, so I was used to training people with 2-seater aircrafts like Cap10, Extra 200, 300 and so on. But it was just 4 to 6 weeks per year before I won. Then after I won, I started to do it like 20-25 weeks a year. It was mostly my main focus.

For most of the audience who don't know what your company is about, would you tell us a little bit about your company and when you started it and what inspired you to start it?

P: I was always interested in teaching people about flying but mostly about aerobatics. So I think when I left the air force back in the ‘90s, I had a chance to get Breitling as a sponsor. Thanks to them I was able to carry on with the competition then I realised that in the mean time since I was also training people, I realised that books are very good for sure but since aerobatics is a very visual activity, the brain is working a lot because you have to adjust yourself in the space. You have to have some input with the controls, know where to look and so on.

So I was thinking, it would be interesting to have something more visual than books. Then that’s why after a long while, I decided to make those applications to demonstrate aerobatics. I was always coaching since 2000 and it took me a long while to take the decision to start this app because I was really trying to build it in my head how can I organise all the program because of course the basics to unlimited—it’s quite complex.

And thanks to Johann and Xample they did the application and we put all the videos inside and I’m quite happy with the job we have done together.

You’re app is called the Academy of Aerobatics, correct?

P: Exactly.

So it’s a series of video tutorials inside the app, is that right?

P: Yes. You have 4 volumes. The first one is mainly concerning safety flying. The second one is the basic of aerobatics. The third one concerns all negative manoeuvres. And the last one is for the freestyle. All the tumbles and so on.

Wow, that’s amazing Patrick. If you come to think about it, it’s like you’re taking traditional teaching and integrating it with the future of technology and aviation. It’s practically for anyone who wants to take aerobatics, they can just download the app, they can learn from it without an instructor. Is that right?

P: No. Laughs*

This is really a very important point. They can prepare their brain to visualise.

The screen of the videos is divided by 3 or 4 and you have the manoeuvres seen from the ground, another manoeuvre where you can see what you’re doing with the controls and another part of the screen is focusing where I’m looking at.

And the main goal is to really to prepare the brain like a flight simulator. To prepare the brain for all the process… but but but of course, you cannot only download the app and then hop on a plane and experiment. And it’s written in the disclaimer.

You need to have some dual flying with CFI in order to get really well oriented with all the safety topics. And of course, as you start some basic manoeuvres you can make mistakes and you can damage the plane and put yourself at risk. That’s why you really need to do it with a flight instructor.

And in the meantime, you can study with your flight instructor on the ground, just to discuss. It’s also an educational tool.

Wow, that’s good to know. So basically it’s like a training manual before you start aerobatics combined with virtual reality.

P: Yes.

So if anyone is interested in training or are interested in aerobatics, they just download the app and see how it would feel like before taking or enrolling in an actual class, right?

P: Exactly, but of course the reason why you need to fly dual with the CFI is also because when you are sitting on your sofa, watching your iPad and the app, you are not sustaining Gs. Your body is stable, you are not turning.

So of course, the CFI will help you to be prepared or get ready to really sustain g's and it will tell you that okay, just before you pull, you are going to tense these muscles and so on. That’s also a reason why you need to do it in actual because in your sofa you imagine maybe but you cannot really feel the pull of gravity of course.

That’s very interesting. So right now, where do you think you’ll be taking Academy of Aerobatics forward? What would the future look like?

P: The app is actually finished now. The main thing is I have to promote it to find some journalist who can write about it and put advertisement just to spread the information worldwide.

Anybody who has a big interest in the app, especially like flight schools or big companies who'd like to advertise using your app, can just reach out. How can they reach out to you?

P: You can easily download the app from the app store for example. Otherwise, I have 2 websites which are dedicated to the apps. They can find a lot of information on those two websites.

There’s a lot of information in there as well.

So whoever is interested can collect the links at the bottom of this post.

So now, let’s talk about the future of aerobatics. So as a world champion in aerobatics, what advice can you give aspiring aerobatic pilots? For those people who are still trying to get to the championships, who are interested, who want to be aerobatic pilots… Where should they start and what should they do to get that championship?

P: Well, depending on the country where you live, because for example in France, the USA, we are lucky to have flying schools as well as in the UK. In that case, that is easy if you have the time and money to join those flying schools and to start flying first and then to start aerobatics.

But of course, there are plenty of countries without aerobatic flying school. It’s more complicated if you have to move from one country to another one to start aerobatics. I know some very motivated people who are doing this. I have some Japanese friends who go to the USA, in California just to learn aerobatics.

"When people are motivated, they find solutions."

Yes, that’s true. Do you think you’ll be teaching more in the coming years? Or what are your plans in terms of your ventures, and aerobatics training?

P: I have some training camps in Europe and quite busy with these. I know there are plenty former and actual world champions who are also training people and coaching people in aerobatics so the overall level is really improving because of these because you have plenty of good coaches.

The planes are improving in a matter of performance but also in a matter of reliability, engine, airframes and so on. I think we have a good future for aerobatics. Maybe now, one point that is a challenge is with the noise. I know some countries that are very sensitive to the noise.

At the moment, there are few companies (like Extra) that are building aircrafts with an electrical engine. The problem will be the weight of all the batteries and the endurance and so on. So for us (the key is) to really improve before it will be possible for us to use it frequently.

So let’s end on a happy note. Do you think you can share one of the best aerobatic competition memory that you have? Like really describe maybe an experience with friends in the community or an experience inside the cockpit wherein it’s either shocking, dangerous…

P: Laughs* Yes, definitely have those.

We’re sure you have a lot, any particular ones?

The best memory I have in aerobatics was back in the period between 1993 and 1995 when we were in the Breitling World Cup of Aerobatics. It was a competition where the first flights were unknown.

The second flights were to freestyle with music—synchronised with music. And for this, we trained together with Dominique Roland Xavier Delaparent, Eric Vazeille.

At least the French pilots, we trained together and we had a lot of fun to find the right piece of music to adapt it to aerobatics. Also to adapt aerobatics to music so we spend a lot of good time working on this together.

Wow! We’re sure that was really exciting! Do you still remember the music that you played for that particular competition? 

P: For me it was The Spring Valz, La Valse du Printemps.

Some pilots experimented with music with very fast rhythm and of course it was very hard to follow the music together with the plane.

So we found that the Austrian Valz are the easiest piece of music to follow with an aerobatic aircraft.

But it was very challenging, very demanding but also very nice to prepare and watch as well. Because we were really following the music inside the headset and the people on the ground were also listening to the music on the loud speakers where they manage to really feel the artistic side to the flying, let’s say.

We're sure that was really fun! So that ends our session for today. Patrick, thank you for gracing us with your presence. We'll make sure to make this interview really rock.

P: I hope that a lot of young pilots will be inspired by aerobatics in the future.

Thank you for your time and have a good day!


Some Awesome Show Notes & Links

Thank you for checking out this first episode of After Flight! We hope you enjoyed it. Below are links that were mentioned in the podcast.

If you’re inspired by this interview with Aerobatics world champion Patrick Paris or you’ve always been interested in becoming an aerobatic pilot, check out his amazing app to jumpstart your career as an aerobatics pilot. 

Academy of Aerobatics (AoA) is a video application that gathers video briefings to help you explore the world of aerobatics. Check out the links below:

  • Valse du Printemps - Patrick's Aerobatic song played during the Breitling World Cup freestyle competition

Connect with Us!

 About the Show

After Flight is brought to you by Air Navigation Pro, the premier flight app for pilots that allows real-time air navigation with maps and charts from almost the entire world. Available with iOS, Windows, Android, & Mac OSX.

to discover more about the Flight planning application Air Navigation Pro on iOS and Android, 
you can also visit our website at 
and check the manual for additional details on how to use the new features. 

Blue Skies,
The Air Navigation Pro Team


02 May 2017

7 Things You Have to Do to Take Care of Your Airplane

Airplanes are complicated—that’s not a mystery to anyone who’s been around aircrafts for any length of time. 
They also represent a significant financial investment.

So, it only makes sense for you to take care of your aircraft the best way possible.  

Of course, there is the safety aspect.  No one is going to enjoy flying an airplane if they don’t feel like they have confidence in it.
Maintaining an airplane can be an expensive and time-consuming venture, and there always seems to be something you can do to make your airplane even better.  
That brings up some great questions in the minds of many owners: 
  • What maintenance tasks are the most important?  
  • Which items provide the biggest bang for the buck?  

You want to make sure that you are not just doing things to your airplane for the sake of doing something—you want to know that what you’re doing really matters!
Here is a list of the seven most important things you can do to protect your airplane and ensure years of fun and safe operation.

1. Keep your airplane clean

It seems so simple, but keeping your aircraft clean is one of the best ways that you can ensure that it provides years of faithful service.  
Dust, dirt, grease, and grime are a playground for corrosion, and it can hide leaks or defects that can affect the safety of your flight.  Your aircraft is designed to perform its best when it is clean; keeping the airframe and control surfaces free of dirt and smashed insects will allow you to squeeze every knot of true airspeed performance out of your airplane.
Washing an airplane is something that you can do yourself, but it is a deceptively complicated process.  
First, be sure that you cover the static ports, pitot tubes, drain holes, and air vents with tape or specially designed covers.  Keep a list of what you’ve covered, too—there would be nothing worse than taking off on your next flight with your pitot static system blocked with tape.  
Remove any rings or jewelry that could get in the way or scratch the paint; a soft pair of rubber gloves isn’t a bad idea either.  
As you wash your airplane, use an approved detergent with a degreaser and a good Plexiglas cleaner for the windows.  
Leave the old rags at home; a clean extra soft sponge or chamois is best for scrubbing off the grime. Finish off the job with an aircraft wax or paint sealer recommended by your airplane’s manufacturer.

2. Change your oil—then get it analyzed.

Oil is the lifeblood of your airplane’s engine, and since your engine is what is keeping you aloft you’ll want to keep it in the best possible shape.  
Most reciprocating engine manufacturers recommend a complete oil change every 50 hours or four months, whichever comes first (sooner in some aircraft). Changing the oil in your aircraft is something that you can do yourself, if you feel mechanically inclined—just make sure that you follow the logbook guidelines provided in FAR part 43.
Changing the oil is only half of the equation.  Before you take that oil down to the recycling center, send a sample off to a reputable oil analysis company.  You’ll get a report back that will tell you what they found in your oil; this information is critical to understanding your engine’s health.  
Many engines can be safely run beyond the TBO if the oil is changed and analyzed regularly.  Since overhauls can run into the thousands of dollars, they are something that you’ll want to put off if your engine is running well.

3. Cover your airplane

Keeping your airplane in a hanger is always preferable, but that isn’t an option for everyone.  
Window shades or covers for your airplane can be expensive to acquire, but they are well worth the investment.  Your cabin contains thousands of dollars of heat sensitive avionics and your interior fabrics and materials can suffer from extreme temperature changes and bright sunlight.  
Exterior covers can also protect your airplane’s Plexiglas from the little scratches caused by dirt picked up by the wind or someone else’s prop wash.  Keeping the bird droppings off of your airplane is always nice, too!

4. Pitot tubes, static ports, and inlet covers

Speaking of covering your airplane up, the job of protection doesn’t end with making sure the interior isn’t exposed to temperature extremes and bright sunlight.  Your pitot tubes and static ports are just the right size for a variety of small insects to make a home in.  
Not only can the presence of these little critters render your pitot/static instruments useless, but they can cost big money to remove as well.  Well-designed covers for these sensitive components are critical.
Don’t forget the space inside your engine cowling as well.  The engine's inlets look like great spots to nesting birds and insects since they are dark, protected from the elements and relatively warm.  
You’ll want to preflight the interior of the cowling carefully before each flight, preferably after removing your purpose built inlet covers.

5. Taking care of the landing gear

Your landing gear puts up with a ton of abuse: rough runways and taxiways, dirt, grime—and probably the less than feather soft landing on occasion.  
This is where the rubber meets the runway, so you’ll want to make sure that your tires and struts are in the best shape they can possibly be in.
The tires are only as good as the life remaining in them.  While it isn’t necessary to change them until a layer of chord is showing through the rubber, if you’re going to be flying in wet conditions you may want to consider a tire change to help reduce the risk of hydroplaning.  
Look for uneven wear too; an unevenly worn or flat spotted tire is murder on wheel bearings and struts.
You’ll want to make sure that your landing gear struts are in good condition as well—this will save you some wear and tear on both your tires and your airframe.  Make sure that the zirks are properly serviced with the appropriate grade of grease and that your olio struts (if that is what your airplane uses) have the proper amount of oil and nitrogen.

6. Always use a manufacturer approved gust lock

When your airplane is sitting out in the elements, a small amount of wind can really move the control surfaces around.  That adds up to wear and tear on your airplane's flight controls; in a lot of wind, serious airframe damage can result from not securing your elevator, ailerons, and rudder.  
Some pilots will use a combination of safety belts and other homemade devices to secure their aircraft’s control surfaces; this is probably better than nothing, but anytime you are using parts for a purpose different from their intended design you are making sacrifices that can result in damage that you didn’t foresee.  
Locking the controls properly will keep your cables, pulleys, rods, and bell cranks in factory new shape. 

7. Keep the paperwork in good shape

Up to half of your airplane’s value is wrapped up in the maintenance logbook.  Staying on top of scheduled maintenance, airworthiness directives, service bulletins, and ensuring that your records are perfect will go a long way towards preserving the value of your aircraft.  
Having an organized system of accounting for oil changes, equipment inspections, and flight hours will also convince a potential buyer that they really are looking at a great airplane when the time comes for you to sell.  

Taking care of your airplane is a big part of flying safely.  It can be fun too! Many of these suggestions are things that you can do yourself.  
You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that not only are you preserving the value of an expensive asset, but you’re flying one of the nicest airplanes in the sky!

to discover more about the Flight planning application Air Navigation Pro on iOS and Android, 
you can also visit our website at 
and check the manual for additional details on how to use the new features. 

Blue Skies,
The Air Navigation Pro Team


21 April 2017

7 Flying Clubs in Canada That You Should Know About

Flying will always be a pilot’s constant, unless adulting decisions come in the way. A true blooded pilot will always look for ways to accommodate their passion. Take for example Todd. When Todd and his wife found out they were having a baby (twins in fact!), they were excited about how it would change their lives. 

Todd flew a lot and loved the personal time he had up in the air, alone with his thoughts. This hobby that is his passion fills in a big part of his life that he would now need to reconsider with the new responsibilities on his plate. 

Flying can be quite costly, all the more are adulting responsibilities. Todd took a walk and reflected on his upcoming adventure with family life and thought about putting his passion, flying, on hold. He talked with his pilot friends and asked for advice. The more he thought about it, the more unpleasant the feeling became. 

Todd loves flying. It was a lifelong dream that he only achieved at the age of 30. Aside from considering the costs and risks involved, he wanted to be the kind of father who teaches his kids about following their dreams and not putting it on hold because there are challenges on the way. The best way to do so if he followed his own. 

During his search for a solution, he was advised by senior pilot friends to join a flying/ aeroclub. The rising costs of flying have seen a decline in the number of pilots over the years. Because of this, passionate pilot hobbyists created flying clubs to encourage more pilots to hone their crafts.

Flying Clubs: A Community of Pilots

Flying clubs help significantly lower the flying cost of a pilot by putting together resources that the club members can share. 

AOPA in particular strongly promotes the advantages of clubs with plans to create a nationwide network. Aside from that, flying clubs also instill a sense of camaraderie and community that encourages and understands what a pilot member is going thru with respect to flying.

Fixed-base operators (FBO) used to be the go-to for pilots looking to earn more flying hours. There are different benefits for going with a FBO or a flying club and one can maximize the benefits depending on the flying style and demand either would accommodate. 

A flying club charges on tach time while FBOs charge by hub time. Both offer similar facilities while the former offers a built-in support network that allows pilots to socialize on events and offer opportunities to build friendships and share their passion for flying.

Flying clubs also offer you the opportunity to experiment on different planes and learn from other pilot members who specialize in specific models. This offers a great opportunity for you to try out different aircrafts and find something new that you like.

Despite all that jazz, not all flying clubs are that great. So be wary and do your research first before joining any in your location. For a club to be successful, there are much to consider including the financial aspect, insurance and maintenance. A successful flying club needs to have outstanding leadership at its core that entices members to be more proactive to attend events and offer more ways to improve the community. 

The best flying clubs maintain planes to a higher standard. Usually, they are better equipped with more options allowing you to choose aircrafts and groups you want to fly with.

In Canada alone, there are more than 20 operational flying clubs and these numbers are growing. If you're new to aviation and want to learn to fly in Canada or want to join a club, here is a selection of 7 flying clubs in Canada that offer top notch support and resources for its members.

1 - Victoria Flying Club

Mae Frame, one of VFC’s earliest members, takes her first flight in the club’s Fleet Canuck, 1947.

Victoria Flying Club is based in the Victoria International Airport in British Columbia. The club was put up a year after World War 2 ended. It began operations in August 1946 after securing temporary lodging with the RCAF at Patricia Bay. It became a hub for aviation enthusiasts and highly decorated influencers. Today, the club is as busy as ever. Members love how organised and professional the club is.

2 - The St. Catharines Flying Club

Marion Alice (Powell) Orr was hired to be the manager and chief flight instructor at St. Catherines Flying Club and was the first woman in Canada to operate a flying club.

One of the oldest flying training clubs in Canada, The St. Catharines Flying Club was formed in May 1928, pre-World War 2. Today, it offers learn-to-fly courses, sightseeing tours, a ground school and a community of aviation enthusiasts. Ontario is known as "The Garden City" for its unique micro-climate where it encourages wineries to flourish. Members fly out from the Niagara District Airport.

3 - Barrie Flying Club

Located in Ontario, Barrie Flying Club offers trainings on the most advanced Light Sport Aircraft in the industry, including Thecnam and Sportstar aircraft. Club members can choose to fly out from three airports in Ontario: Barrie, Edenvale, and Cookstown Airport. The club offers ratings for Ultralight aeroplanes.

4 - Rockcliffe Flying Club

Rockcliffe Flying Club is located in Ottawa, Ontario. The club offers ground and air training for Recreational Pilot Permits, Private Pilot Licenses, Night Ratings, VFR OTT and Instrument Ratings. The club has a very friendly environment with proactive members and excellent instructors that make the flying experience fun and easy. 

5 - Brandon Flying Club

Brandon Flying Club is based in Manitoba and started as a training school of pilots. It was established on November 1936. Today, the club has over 230 active members with 30 lifetime members. There have been interest in the younger segments making events a more interesting and entertaining one. The club also offers a self-serve fuel unit.

6 - Nanaimo Flying Club

Nanaimo Flying Club is another club based in British Columbia. Members are quite proactive in choosing new member applications and agree on it on their meetings. It passes thru a nomination process and expect their members and applicants to attend. The club also invites interesting guest speakers to their monthly events. 

7 - Polar Pilots 

A little group of private pilots in Nunavut got together to establish a flying club in the Eastern Arctic region, where flying is quite challenging and unique. It offers flights to Baffin Island, the largest island in Canada and inhabited by Inuits. There are only a few members, so if you’re around Nunavut and want to fly, Polar Pilots are the only known flying club in the area.

to discover more about the Flight planning application Air Navigation Pro on iOS and Android, 
you can also visit our website at 
and check the manual for additional details on how to use the new features. 

Blue Skies,
The Air Navigation Pro Team


17 April 2017

10 Steps to Becoming a General Aviation Pilot

Let’s face it—flying looks like a lot of fun. Who wouldn’t want to have the opportunity to get into an airplane and use their skill to put the earth below them? Flying opens up a whole new world of opportunities. Trips that would take days are suddenly doable in a single day. Being able to fly an airplane can shrink time and space and add productivity to your work day; business meetings that used to be hours away are now reachable in far less time. Of course, there is the satisfaction to be gained from seeing the landscape from a vantage point that few can experience.

Lots of people want to learn to fly, but getting started can be a little bit intimidating. Like so many other endeavors, the world of aviation has a language and rules all its own. This article will take the mystery out of the process and help you understand how to earn your wings.

Step 1. Check out the eligibility requirements:

Every country has a national aviation authority that issues pilot licenses. There will be an age requirement—typically 14 to 15 for a private pilot certificate in sailplanes (gliders) and 16 to 17 years of age to fly powered airplanes. You may begin training before this time, but you won’t be able to test for the certificate until you reach the appropriate age. English is the international language of aviation, so you’ll need to be able to read, write, and speak English proficiently. You’ll also need to be able to present a valid government issued I.D. or driver’s license.

In the United States and in some other countries, there are different categories of general aviation certification. Depending on your goals for flying, choosing to pursue a certification that is less than a full-fledged private pilot may be for you.

The three categories of private general aviation pilot certification are detailed below. The numbers presented are mostly applicable to the U.S., although many other countries have similar requirements:

  • Private pilot: You can fly for your own business or for pleasure, day or night, and in any kind of controlled airspace. You cannot receive compensation for flying an airplane; in other words, you can’t get paid to fly. This level of pilot certificate requires that the holder maintain a medical certificate. You’ll need at least 40 hours of training to obtain this certificate, but most students need about 60 hours. Requirements in other countries vary—this level of certificate is referred to as a PPL in countries other than the U.S.
  • Recreational pilot: This certificate requires less training time than a private pilot certificate, while still allowing you to exercise many of the same privileges. Recreational pilots can fly one passenger in an aircraft with up to four seats and with an engine that can produce up to 180 horsepower. You can’t fly at night or in controlled airspace without supervision or receiving additional instruction. A medical certificate and at least 30 hour of training is required, although most students finish their certificate with about 40 hours. If your goal is to simply rent an airplane and take short trips in the local area to enjoy flying, this could be the certificate for you. In the U.K., this level of certification is known as the NPPL.
  • Sport Pilot: There is a growing movement in the general aviation world toward very small and simple aircraft, some of which can be assembled as kits and operated as experimental aircraft. There are also a number of different aircraft that meet the weight and seat number requirements for use in the sport category (1,320 pounds and no more than two seats). This license does not require a medical certificate, but you do need to hold a valid driver’s license. Sport pilots can carry one passenger, may not fly at night, and may also not fly in controlled airspace. If homebuilt light aircraft or just buzzing around the airport on a nice day is what you are looking for, this is an easy certificate to obtain. Only 20 hours of training is required, although most students complete about 30 hours before they earn their wings.

Step 2: Getting a Medical and Student Pilot Certificate

If you’ve decided to pursue a private pilot certificate or recreational pilot certificate, your next step is to get your medical certificate and student pilot certificate. In the U.S., both of these tasks are completed by visiting a doctor who is certified by the FAA as an Aviation Medical Examiner (AME). He/she will do a basic physical exam that checks your general condition, cardiovascular health, vision, and hearing. Most people have no trouble passing this exam. If you are pursuing a private pilot or recreational pilot license, you’ll only need a third class medical certificate—this will need to renewed this every five years.

In the U.S., prior to your appointment with the AME, you’ll need to fill out some paperwork online via the FAA’s MedXpress website. That can be found here.

A list of AMEs in the U.S. can be found here. Be sure to select “AME” in the “Designee Type” search field.

Other countries have different requirements. Be sure to check with your local aviation authorities to find the steps that are right for you.

Step 3: Find a Flight Instructor

Now it is time to find a flight instructor or flight school to help you on your way. Here is where Google really becomes useful; searching “find a flight school” will pull up a multitude of listings. In the U.S., the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) maintains and excellent database of flight schools and instructors. Other countries will have similar organizations that are more than willing to assist you in finding the school that is right for you.

Here is an important point: Don’t just pick the school at the top of the list and go with it. You’ll want to make sure that your school and instructor are a good fit for you. If you have several schools in your area, take the time to visit them all. Clean facilities, professionally dressed staff, and clean airplanes are a good sign that a particular school is a good one. You should feel welcome and the staff should take the time to answer all of your questions. When you meet your instructor, make sure you feel comfortable; this is a person you’ll be spending many hours in a small airplane with!

Step 4: Get the Written Test out of the Way

To obtain any level of certification as a pilot, a written test will be required. Much of the study for this test can be done on your own; there are excellent online resources and printed materials to help you on your way.

Studying for and taking the written test before you begin your flight training isn’t essential, but it will save you time and money in the long run. If you’ve already passed the written before or shortly after you’ve begun flying, you’ll have a good knowledge base to apply throughout your flight training. That means less time with the instructor and less money spent by you! Showing up to each flight training session prepared and knowledgeable is the single best thing you can do to ensure your rapid progress.

Step 5: Start Flying!

Now for the fun part—the actual flying! Your first few flights will be focused on getting you used to the sensations of flight and introducing you to the controls of the aircraft. Later, you will focus on flying the aircraft through a variety of speed regimes, especially slow speed flight. Once you have mastered that skill, it will be time to hit the traffic pattern and learn how to land the aircraft.

Step 6: Flying Solo

Once you can confidently control the aircraft in takeoff, landing, and cruise flight, you’ll be allowed to fly the airplane by yourself; this is called a solo.

Your first solo flight is a big day—you’ll be surprised how well the aircraft performs without the instructor’s added weight! After a few solos at your home airport, you’ll be allowed to fly to other airports in the local area to practice takeoffs, landings, maneuvers, and traffic pattern operations. All of this is in preparation for the next phase of your training, cross-country flight.

Step 7: Actually Going Places

Your training is nearly complete, so now it is time to apply all that you have learned to using the airplane for what it does best—taking you from one place to another. Your instructor will show you how to use charts and tools like Air Navigation Pro to accurately navigate by referencing objects on the ground, using radio navigation aids, and GPS. Once you’ve shown that you can navigate with confidence, you’ll be turned loose to practice your navigation skills on your own by flying cross country flights solo. This is a great opportunity to look at the chart and pick some places you really want to see. Cross country destinations with good places to eat or with beautiful scenery will add a lot of richness to your flying experiences!

Step 8: Putting it all together

At this point, you are ready to be a certified pilot. Your instructor will put you through your paces, giving you simulated emergency scenarios to deal with in the airplane and making sure that each maneuver is performed up to standards. These last few flights will be quite busy; you’re preparing for the final step of your journey, which is the check ride.

Step 9: Time for the Check Ride

For your final test, or check ride, you’ll be flying with a pilot examiner designated by your country’s aviation authority to test prospective pilots. While you are being evaluated, try not to stress too much!

The pilot examiner will be friendly and will explain the expectations for successful completion of the check ride. Once you are in the air, he/she will ask you to perform maneuvers but otherwise won’t say very much! You’ll be busy, and the time will go by very fast. Once you are on the ground, you’ll be told that you’ve successfully completed your check ride. The examiner will help you to complete the paperwork required, and you’ll walk away from the check ride a certified pilot!

Step 10: Always Keep Learning! 

Flight is a dynamic and ever-changing environment. Your new pilot certificate is really a license to learn—get out and fly as often as you can to increase your experience and skill. There are a multitude of continuing education programs for general aviation pilots; many of these are free or can be enrolled in at very little cost. Look at each flight as a new learning experience, and keep notes about what you have learned from each one.

A good pilot is always a student!

to discover more about the Flight planning application Air Navigation Pro on iOS and Android, 
you can also visit our website at 
and check the manual for additional details on how to use the new features. 

Blue Skies,
The Air Navigation Pro Team


11 April 2017

What Aircraft Should You Fly Based on Your Personality

Flying makes a pilot's life exciting but we wanted to triple the fun and put together a quiz that will allow you to explore what type of aircraft fits your personality. The results may vary according to your tastes and preferences, not to mention budget. Try this test out to get to know your inner aviator!

Share with your friends to join in on the fun!

Whatever the result, this quiz is mainly for entertainment only and not an official assessment of your capabilities.

to discover more about the Flight planning application Air Navigation Pro on iOS and Android, 
you can also visit our website at 
and check the manual for additional details on how to use the new features. 

Blue Skies,
The Air Navigation Pro Team