Where to fly when you’re building time in Ontario Canada
Building those 100 PIC hours for your CPL or 50 cross-country hours for IFR can seem like a big task. It’s important to mix up your destinations and learn as much as you can during your time building to get the most out of it. Having an airport bucketlist will keep things exciting and bringing along a friend to join the fun, is encouraged. Be sure to always gather all information necessary before your flight including the updated navigational charts, CFS information, NOTAMS, and weather. Here is a list of where to fly when you’re building time in Southern Ontario.
Toronto Island and City Tour
This is the classic trip that every CPL student building time takes and we can see why. The views of Toronto are stunning and an interesting change of pace if you’ve done all your training in a flat area, away from any cities. Landing on an island with water at the end of each runway is also something we might not get to do every day (unless you did your PPL on the island, of course!). This landing comes with a fee (around $20) even for a touch and go, but the approach right next to the skyscrapers of Toronto is worth it.
After a touch and go, you can request to do a “City Tour.” The tower at CYTZ may have specific instructions for you to follow, such as “orbit the city in this direction” or “stay south of Bloor St for passing traffic.” This tour is special because thy often make you do it between 2000ft and 2500ft and it feels like you’re very close to the CN tower. The view is unbeatable, especially at night! Check out our instagram for a great video of the scenic tour.
Another pro about this trip is that you fly through busy airspace that keeps you on your toes and helps you improve your radio skills if you’ve come from a quiet, uncontrolled airport. This is great practice and the controllers are helpful. When in doubt, ask them to “say again” or “speak slower” for any instructions you didn’t quite get. They are there to help.
Kitchener/Waterloo (CYKF) airport was one of the first places I ventured to when building time, mostly because their restaurant, Runways Cafe, was open in the morning. We absolutely recommend the breakfast options. Their large patio has a great view of the runways, which are always busy because there’s a flight school there.
Along with a very busy traffic circuit, the airport is a class C control zone. This is great radio and procedural practice for pilots from small, uncontrolled airports. Venturing into busy, controlled airspace can be nerve-wracking but we promise the more you do it, the easier it gets. It can also be very fun!
Brantford (CYFD) is a small, uncontrolled airport which will keep your heart rate down as a fresh PPL holder. There is a flight school on site so the circuit is likely to have other planes in it but it won’t be as busy as an airport like CYKF. Once again, I made the trip here to visit the airport restaurant, Skyway Cafe. There is plenty of parking right across from the cafe. The building is small but there are picnic tables and Muskoka chairs out front so you can sit and watch the circuit traffic while you eat.
Orillia Rama (CNJ4) is a small airport with a water aerodrome on site (CNV6). Flying in to grab lunch or dinner at their restaurant, Tailwinds Bar and Grill, is the perfect opportunity to also watch the floatplanes landing and taking off. They dock right in front of the restaurant patio. CNV6 is once of the busiest floatplane bases in Ontario and also has a float rating training program. The land runway at CNJ4 has ARCAL type J lighting, so if you stay late for dinner and have your night rating, it’s no problem.
Collingwood airport (CNY3), home of Pilot Annie, is somewhere that’s on our list but we’ve never actually been. It’s located close to Wasaga Beach and according to the COPA website, there is a courtesy car you can rent if you call in advance. Collingwood also has a small restaurant called The Spitfire Canteen.
Somewhere else that’s on our airport bucketlist is Port Elgin (CNL4) on Lake Huron. It has a grass runway and no winter maintenance so watch what time of year you try to visit! According to the COPA website, it has 5 bikes for pilot’s to use and is close to MacGregor Point provincial park. It’s also a 10-15 minute bike ride from two different beaches!
Edenvale airport (CNV8), in between Collingwood and Barrie, is home to the Hangar 26 restaurant which has a large outdoor patio. They apparently make a mean “$100 hamburger” – aviation slang for an excuse to go flying. Pilots fly to airports with restaurants just to have a reason to fly, making that meal quite expensive! Edenvale is definitely on our bucketlist.
Honourable Mentions and more Locations on our Bucketlist
Tobermory (CNR4) – Free bikes to use (not maintained very well, bring a helmet and use with caution), ride to beaches and into town. Click here for a full write-up on this adventure!
Point Peele Island (CYPT) – Scenic flight. No fuel on island, stop in at Leamington on the mainland (CLM2).
Goderich (CYGD) – On Lake Huron, near the water, bikes to use if pre-arranged with airport manager, scenic 20-30 min walk into town on the walking trail. Two restaurants nearby.
Lindsay (CNF4) – Also known as Kawartha Lakes Municiple. Word on the street is they have great buttertarts.
Midland/Huronia (CYEE) – Tailwinds Cafe, courtesy van for 1-2hrs for a donation (call ahead), picnic tables and pavilion to eat your packed lunch at and watch planes.
Building time for your commercial license or IFR rating has huge potential to be a great adventure. Whether you’re looking to do scenic flights, hit up every restaurant you can, or get more experience on the radio, this list has something for everyone. To create this airport bucketlist for where to fly when you’re building time in Southern Ontario, we spent hours on COPA’s website, which is an amazing tool. Beware that some info may be outdated so always check the CFS or call the airport to confirm.
Now we have to ask…Where to fly when you’re building time? What airports are on your bucketlist?!
Leave A Comment
You must be logged in to post a comment.