How to Become a Pilot in the Canadian Air Force

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Becoming a pilot in the Canadian Air Force is quite challenging and potentially dangerous, but relatively inexpensive. The Air Force provides all necessary training and subsidizes your education. To apply, you need only be a Canadian citizen over 16 years of age with a Grade 10 education. However, very few who apply succeed in becoming an Air Force pilot.

Things You'll Need

  • Canadian birth certificate or citizenship card
  • Parental consent form (if under 18)
  • School transcript
  • Diploma or degree (if applicable)

Enrollment

  • Apply to the Canadian Forces online, by mail or in person. To become a pilot, you must apply to either the Direct Entry Officer program (if you hold a university degree) or to the Regular Officer Training Program (ROTP). On your application, specify "pilot" as your intended career.

  • Pass the Canadian Forces screening process, which involves a reliability screening (five character references, employment check, criminal record check, credit check and security clearance questionnaire); Canadian Forces Aptitude Test (verbal reasoning, spatial ability and problem solving); medical examination (medical history questionnaire, height and weight, vision and hearing tests, urine sample, physical exam and medical record review); and a personal interview with a military career counselor.

  • Attend the Preparatory Year at Royal Military College (RMC) Saint-Jean in Saint-Jean, Quebec if you don't have a high school diploma. If you have a high school diploma but no university degree, proceed directly to enrollment at RMC of Canada. Your education will be subsidized by the Canadian Forces and you will receive a salary as an officer cadet while attending school. RMC students receive basic military training as part of their education. If you already have a university degree, proceed to the next step.

Training

  • Complete Phase I Basic Officer Training (in either English or French) at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. This program consists of a six-week Initial Assessment Period (IAP) and a seven-week Basic Officer Training Course (BOTC). Basic Officer Training provides education in military customs and regulations, as well as weapons handling and physical fitness training. If you are a ROTP student, the IAP must be completed in the summer prior to the commencement of your studies at RMC of Canada.

  • Complete Phase II Second Language Training in either English or French depending on your language proficiency. The length of the program depends on your level of fluency; it can last for up to seven months.

  • Complete a Primary Flying Training course. This course serves to introduce military flight regulations and procedures. Training takes approximately three months and usually occurs in Portage-la-Prairie, Manitoba.

  • Complete your prerequisite training courses. These include Aeromedical Training, which covers G-forces, altitude, oxygen system and ejection seat training; Basic Land Survival course, a one-week program conducted near Winnipeg, Manitoba; and Basic Sea Survival Course in Comox, British Columbia.

  • Complete Basic Flying Training at the NATO Flight Training Centre in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. This eight-month course includes classroom, flight simulator and in-flight training. Your performance in this course determines which stream of advanced training you will undergo.

  • Complete your assigned stream of Advanced Flying Training. Rotary Wing Training, a four-month course in Portage, trains helicopter pilots; Multi-Engine Training, also a four-month course, takes place in Southport, Manitoba; and Jet Fighter Training takes place in Moose Jaw over a five-month period. Upon completion of your training stream, you will be awarded your pilot wings.

Tips & Warnings

  • The Canadian Forces offer special training programs for Aboriginal people.
  • Be sure to check with your doctor to make sure that you are able to meet the physical demands of the program.
  • Pilot training, particularly through the subsidized ROTP program, compels you to serve in the Air Force for a minimum time period, usually five years or longer.

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References

  • Photo Credit avion image by berdoulat jerome from Fotolia.com
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