getting a balloon pilot license in Canada
In order to supply you
with the most information possible, we'll describe the usual procedure for
a Canadian citizen, (we are Canadian Pilots licensed to train in Canada),
at least sixteen years of age, who does not hold another
aviation licence. This procedure is based on the present requirements
contained in the relevant chapters of the Personnel Licensing Handbook and
discussion with some of the people at Transport Canada. It is meant as a
reference only and you should always refer to the
aforementioned Personnel Licensing Handbook for current requirements. If
you have any questions concerning licensing, we encourage you to contact
Transport. They would rather answer a few questions at the start than try
to sort out problems after the fact.
We'll describe the
procedure as simply as possible, as a series of steps. There may be
circumstances where some of these steps may be done in a different order
or they may be combined.
OUT WHAT THE REQUIREMENTS ARE FOR YOUR PARTICULAR CIRCUMSTANCES!
You must find a Licensed
Balloon Pilot with an Instructor Rating. If you already have the names of
some balloon pilots in your area ask them if they have a valid
instructor's rating. Transport Canada can confirm this. You don't have to
do all of your flight training with one instructor, however you will have
to demonstrate to one of them that you have received adequate training,
are competent to fly a balloon, and satisfy the requirements for a
Medical. Most people
obtain the name of a physician recognized by Transport Canada and have
their medical exam prior to beginning their flight training. Although you
don't have to present evidence of passing the medical until you are
actually ready to fly solo, you are strongly advised to complete this
aspect as soon as possible. There's no sense in getting that far into
your training only to be disqualified for medical reasons.
You need at least ten
hours of ground school training. This will cover all the information that
Transport feels you must know, as outlined in their study guide. Your
instructor should be able to either provide the ground school training or
tell you where it can be obtained.
Any time after your
ground school training is done, you must obtain a letter from your
instructor stating that you have successfully completed the training and
that they recommend you be allowed to try your first written exam. This
exam (PSTAR) focuses on air law and regulations, but it does not
specifically pertain to Hot Air Balloons. You must pass
the PSTAR exam before you can fly solo.
Before obtaining your
license you will need a minimum of 16 (sixteen) hours of flight training
which includes at least 11 (eleven) hours of untethered flight under the
direction and supervision of a qualified instructor. The untethered
flight training must include at least 6 (six) dual instruction flights,
including one ascent to over 5000 feet, and 2 (two) solo flights of at
least 30 minutes each. ALWAYS VERIFY
THE CURRENT REQUIREMENTS SET OUT IN THE PERSONNEL LICENSING HANDBOOK.
In order to fly solo
(with no other people aboard) you must obtain a Student Pilot Permit (SPP).
In order to obtain your SPP you have to either deal directly with
Transport Canada or with someone in the ballooning community authorized
by Transport Canada to act on their behalf. You must show this Transport
identification which shows your nationality, age and full name.
Nationality and age information show that you are entitled to be
licensed in Canada and for how long your medical is valid. Your name is
required for the issuing of the license, which is a legal document. If
your name has changed you will have to provide evidence of such. (A
married woman who has changed her name will be asked to provide a
Proof that you have
satisfied the medical criteria. This is either your License Validation
Certificate or a Medical Assessment Letter.
A copy of your results
of the PSTAR exam, showing a passing grade.
A recommendation from a
qualified balloon instructor stating that you have completed the
requirements, have demonstrated sufficient competence in the operation
of a Hot Air Balloon and that you should be allowed to fly solo.
You can make the process
easier and faster by bringing the original documents and 3 (three) copies
of each. The authorized person must see the originals, will keep one copy
of each document and send two certified copies to
At any time after
receiving a passing grade on your PSTAR exam, and after having completed
at least 12 (twelve) hours of your flight training (75% of the flight
time requirements), you should obtain a letter from your instructor
recommending that you be allowed to try your second written exam. This
exam (PIBAL) may cover any aspect of ballooning, from regulations to the
relevant laws of physics.
Any time after you have
satisfied all of the requirements your instructor must
certify in your log book that the flights and times entered therein are
accurate. They must also provide you with a letter stating that you are
competent to fly a Hot Air Balloon and recommend that you receive your
You will then return to the Transport Authorized Person and show them:
Your Student Pilot
A current License
Proof of obtaining a
passing grade on the PSTAR and PIBAL exams
Your certified log book
showing that you have satisfied the requirements in the Personnel
Your letter of
recommendation from a qualified instructor. Once again, it is easier and
faster to bring the originals and 3 (three) copies of each document.
You then fill out an
application form for a license, in duplicate, and pay a forty-two dollar
(subject to change) licensing fee. Once the paperwork has been completed,
the Transport Authorized Person will complete the back of your Student
Pilot Permit which then becomes your temporary Balloon
License for a specified time, or until Transport issues you the actual
So there you are, a
Licensed Balloon Pilot.
There are exceptions to
these steps. For instance, if you already hold a valid pilot license for
another category of aircraft, with the exception of ultra lights, you only
need 5 (five) hours of ground school, and you need not write the PSTAR
If you have any questions
concerning the procedures for obtaining a Balloon Pilot's License, give us
a call, or you can get in touch with
Transport Canada. They
can be very helpful people.