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Why Kelowna Is the Best Place to Learn to Fly

The moment you first arrive into Kelowna, the surrounding environment is immediately confronting. Kelowna is a city nestled amongst the mountains of the Okanagan Valley on the shores of a beautiful, vast lake, making Kelowna International Airport (CYLW) one of the best places for you to invest in your flying potential. Hundreds of pilots, and soon-to-be pilots, flock out here en masse each year to train in such a diverse and challenging environment. The surrounding landscape provides a multitude of weather systems to deal with, including the infamous mountain wave as you navigate the airspace around CYLW. So whether you’re interested in flying landplanes, floatplanes or both, read on to learn more about why Kelowna is the best place to learn to fly in Canada, or indeed, the world.

The Terrain

As we have already discussed, the terrain here plays a key role in why it’s such a challenging and diverse place to complete your flight training. Everyone knows that it’s important to gain experience in a location where you have lots of variants to consider, such as the weather, terrain, controlled and uncontrolled airspace, built up areas and expanses of water to name a few. 

One of the main reasons why I chose Kelowna, and ultimately Air Hart Aviation, for my flight instruction was because of the surrounding, and really rather initially daunting, mountainous terrain. It provided for me, someone who was accustomed to flying over the rolling hills of Wales as opposed to alarmingly (in my view) close to the 9000ft peaks that huddle around the Okanagan valley, an opportunity to grow my confidence in mountain flying. I have since, of course, become accustomed to their close proximity to the airport and no longer try to fly directly down the middle of the valley instead of along the sides! But it certainly did take me some time to get used to it.

The benefits of navigating such terrain are numerous, to begin with it’s excellent training for mountain flying and becoming aware of and spotting the potential traps that can come with it. The low-lying land, surrounded by heavily forested areas and dramatic elevation changes are all within a very close proximity to CYLW, providing a rich and varied training ground during your instruction. It’s normal to feel the affects of the mountain wave of the nearby peaks as you navigate the circuit. Not to mention the vast expanses of water available to any pilot undergoing their floatplane rating.

The terrain and the mountain winds truly make the Okanagan one of the best places in the world to learn to fly. 

Kelowna International Airport

Having begun my flight training at a sleepy airfield in the countryside which would oftentimes be uncontrolled depending on the hour of the day, I knew that I needed to grab the bull by the horns and continue my flight training somewhere busier with ATC. In CYLW you’ll be flying in a fully controlled radar environment which rapidly allows you to develop a high proficiency in radio communications. It ensures that you graduate as a well prepared and skilled pilot, capable of trusting in yourself and making quick decisions. 

Plenty of Uncontrolled Airfields Nearby

Variety is the key to becoming a proficient pilot, and Kelowna certainly has plenty of that to offer! You’ll find several uncontrolled airports in close proximity to CYLW which serve as a productive training ground for your cross country navigation, becoming accustomed to flying within a variety of zones and to make safe judgements according to your environments and the relevant regulations.

It wouldn’t be fair to finish this post without also mentioning the incredible beauty of the local area. If you really want to explore British Columbia, the best way to do it is by air. Seeing the vast magnificence of the landscape from a bird’s perspective will probably be the most spectacular and memorable sightseeing tour you could ever experience, and it’s all the better because you’re the one flying the plane!

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Contact Us

Address: 1348 Water St Kelowna, BC V1Y 9P3

Tel: (250) 762-9830
Fax: (250) 762-9840
Toll-Free: 1-877-766-6699