Have you always wondered what it’s like to fly? The COPA Discover Aviation program has been developed to welcome our friends, community-members and future pilots into the world of aviation by providing a free discovery flight in a small airplane and in encouraging interest to join Canada’s growing flying community.
Aviation is exciting and can provide once-in-a-lifetime experiences. As a “pilot for a day” you’ll experience an enjoyable flight that may give you a new perspective on the world. The discovery flight will be conducted according to federal regulations. In addition, no aerobatic maneuvers will be performed.
To date, nearly 30,000 Canadians have been introduced to the world of aviation through these community events.
Click below to learn about upcoming Discover Aviation Day events nearest you! If there are no Discover Aviation events, consider reaching out to one our COPA Flight chapters in your area to express your interest in flying.
Upcoming Discover Aviation events
- Discover Aviation Day at Chatham-Kent Municipal Airport, ON, Sept 8, 8am-5pm
Organizing chapter: COPA Flight 203
Airport: Chatham-Kent Municipal Airport (CYCK)
Address: 8528 14 Line, Merlin, ON N0P 1W0
Contact: Marion Smith at msmith@Z3Aviation.com
- Discover Aviation Day at Bonnyville Regional Airport, AB, Sept 9, 10am-2pm
Organizing chapter: COPA Flight 90 – Bonnyville Flying Club
Airport: Bonnyville Regional Airport (CYBF)
Address: Bonnyville No. 87, AB T9N 0B6
Contact: Kurt Richard at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- COPA Flight 139’s Discover Aviation Day at Westlock Airport (CES4), Sept 9, 7am-5pm
For more information, click here: http://discoveraviation.ca/.
- COPA Flight 73’s Discover Aviation Day at Huronia Airport (CYEE), Sept 9, 9am-3pm
For more information, contact Grant Lloyd at email@example.com.
- COPA 148’s Discover Aviation 2023 at Brantford Airport (CYFD), Sept 16
Please contact Gord Cormick at firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to attend.
- COPA Flight 24’s Discover Aviation Day at CYQL, Sept 16
For more information, please visit https://Lethbridgesportflyers.com or contact Al Blakely at email@example.com.
- COPA Flight 51’s Discover Aviation Day – Wetaskiwin (CEX3), Sept 30, 8-6pm
For more information follow COPA Flight 51 on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100091893073662 or contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information for program participants
COPA is the hosting body of the COPA Discover Aviation events happening all across Canada. We represent 13,000 pilots and 200+ chapters (known as COPA Flights) located in all 10 provinces and one territory. Our members are aviation enthusiasts of every age group, including many airline and commercial pilots, engineers, business people–even astronauts. They enjoy all types of aircraft, including experimental machines, drones, fixed-wing aircraft, gliding planes, helicopters, and floatplanes.
The Magnes Group is a proud exclusive sponsor for the COPA Discover Aviation Program. They are a privately owned and operated Canadian company and offer insurance and risk management solutions in keeping with their clients’ financial goals. Service and responsiveness are core to their delivery and their independence ensures the autonomy to always act with the clients’ best interests in mind.
Who are the pilots?
The pilots participating in the COPA Discover Aviation Program are local members of COPA who are volunteering their time and aircraft to make your discovery flight possible. Each COPA Discover Aviation pilot is licensed by Transport Canada and all the aircraft utilized meet the regulatory requirements to safely fly you and your loved ones.
Who can participate?
Anyone 8 years of age and old can become a pilot-for-the-day with COPA. We do require all participants to complete a consent waiver given to them by either the COPA Flight hosting the COPA Discover Aviation event or the COPA member providing the individual discovery flight.
How do I participate?
There are two ways to become a pilot-for-the-day with COPA:
- Find a COPA Discover Aviation event and register for a discovery flight – check out our events calendar here
- Find a current COPA member who is willing provide you a personal discovery flight
Learn the basics of flying with free ground school!
Take the next steps in your flying journey and pursue your Private Pilot’s Licence (PPL). Through our partnership with Hangaaar, gain free access—for one (1) year—to their online PPL ground school and build the necessary knowledge to become a pilot. To sign up, please let your COPA Flight or pilot know.
Fly planes on your phone/tablet
Ready to become the pilot-in-command? Test your skills through Infinite Flight’s comprehensive flight simulator and experience aviation on your mobile or tablet device. Ask your COPA pilot how you can get a free 90-day trial to Infinite Flight Pro and fly anywhere in the world! To sign up, please let your COPA Flight or pilot know.
Flight training scholarships
COPA offers thousands of dollars annually to help pilots and aspiring aviators pursue flight training through its scholarship program. Click here to learn what funding is available.
Information for volunteer pilots
Thank you for volunteering at your local Discover Aviation event! Please read the information below to familiarize yourself on requirements to participate in the program
Only current COPA members are covered under the Air Meet Insurance (non COPA members who wish to participate in the event do so at their own risk and expense and COPA assumes no liability). Members of COPA Flights (proof of membership required) that hold a current COPA corporate membership are covered under the COPA Air Meet Insurance.
Who can be a volunteer pilot
Any licensed pilot can participate as volunteer pilot for COPA’s Discover Aviation events, subject to the following conditions. The pilot must:
- Be a current COPA member
- Have an appropriate and current Pilot License or Permit, with passenger carrying privilege, for the aircraft being flown
- Meet all Transport Canada recency requirements including a minimum of five takeoffs and landings within the previous six months in the category and class of aircraft to be used. Ref: CAR 401.05 Recency Requirements
Note: No financial compensation is permitted for your time or aircraft operating expenses, and tax receipts will not be issued. Neither COPA nor the Discover Aviation program has a charitable status.
Volunteer background checks
As COPA’s Discover Aviation events welcome young people (18 and under) into the world of aviation, all volunteer pilots must complete a background check. The following background check options are accepted by COPA:
- A background check conducted by a municipal, provincial or First Nations police service. These checks must be renewed every five years. Expenses are not covered by COPA.
- A Government of Canada security clearance such as a reliability status, secret clearance, top secret clearance or a NEXUS/RAIC pass. These background checks must be active at the time of the Discover Aviation event. Expenses are not covered by COPA.
- A background check conducted by a private business with authority to complete background screenings.
- Completed online via Sterling Backcheck, COPA’s trusted background check partner. These background checks must be renewed every five years. COPA will cover the $25 fee for its members (we require first + last name and emails, this can be inputted in our event registration form). This new option was introduced in 2022 to save COPA members time and money, and should take less than 30 minutes to complete.
What kind of aircraft can be used? Aircraft must:
- Be Canadian registered,
- Carry on board all documentation required by Transport Canada, including proof of liability insurance coverage
- Be authorized for carrying passengers in Canada. These aircraft types are:
- Certified Aircraft, including aeroplanes, helicopters, gliders and balloons (Standard Certificate of Airworthiness)
- Amateur-built aircraft including aeroplanes, helicopters, gliders, gyroplanes and balloons (Special Certificate of Airworthiness – Amateur-built)
- Owner-maintenance aircraft (Special Certificate of Airworthiness – Owner-Maintenance)
- Limited Class aircraft, including warbirds and other limited class aircraft that are approved for passenger-carrying (Special Certificate of Airworthiness – Limited)
- Advanced ultralights
Additional stipulations for one-off flights occurring outside of a scheduled event day:
- Aircraft provisions as outlined above apply in their entirety
- Flights must occur at a registered aerodrome in Canada
Basic ultralights are not authorized for Discover Aviation flying due to their prohibition on carrying passengers. One exception is that they can be used if the pilot is an ultralight instructor, the instructor has notified TC that he or she is operating a flight school, as required by CAR 406.05, the Junior Aviator is 14 years of age or older and the flight is conducted as an ultralight introductory instructional flight. Insurance requirements including $100,000 passenger liability insurance must still be met in this circumstance.
Other owners of basic ultralight aircraft are welcome to participate in Discover Aviation events, but their aircraft can only be used for static display and for ground familiarization.
Aircraft and pilots checklist
- COPA membership status or the COPA Flight corporate membership status
- Current Pilot License or Permit, with passenger carrying privilege, for the aircraft being flown
- Valid Medical Certificate
- Transport Canada recency requirements including minimum of five takeoffs and landings within previous six months in category and class of aircraft to be used
- Aircraft must be Canadian registered
- All documentation required by Transport Canada on board of aircraft, including proof of public liability insurance and property damage applicable aircraft to be used
- Passenger liability insurance minimum coverage for all seats as per CAR 606.02
- Aircraft must be authorized for carrying passengers in Canada
- Aerobatic maneuvers or other non-standard flying is prohibited
Information for event organizers
Planning a Discover Aviation event? Please ensure to fill out the form below to obtain your Certificate of Insurance and to request marketing materials/background checks for your volunteer pilots. Please see the volunteer pilot section for alternative background checks that accepted by COPA.
For insurance purposes, pilots who participate in the Discover Aviation program must be current members of COPA or be a member of the organizing COPA Flight that has a current COPA corporate membership.The Air Meet Insurance coverage includes event and top-up liability insurance and it is provided by COPA through the Magnes Group.
In order to minimize any insurance coverage issues, the Discover Aviation event insurance and the Young Eagles Program cannot be combined in any way.
Aircraft used for Discover Aviation flights are required to carry at least the following public liability and property damage insurance, as specified by Transport Canada in CAR 606.02 and the minimum Discover Aviation requirement for passenger liability as described below:
- For aircraft less than 2300 lbs gross take-off weight – $100,000 public liability and property damage and $100,000 passenger liability per passenger seat.
- For aircraft greater than or equal to 2300 lbs and less than 5000 lbs gross take-off weight -$500,000 public liability and property damage and $100,000 passenger liability per passenger seat.
- For aircraft greater than or equal to 5000 lbs and less than 12500 lbs gross take-off weight – $1,000,000 and Passenger Liability CAR minimum of $300,000 for each passenger seat.
Aerobatic maneuvers and/or other non-standard flying are strictly prohibited.
Hull-in-motion insurance and pilot life insurance are not requirements for this program and COPA’s insurance policy does not provide for these protections.
To further protect pilots providing Discover Aviation flights, COPA’s insurance provides for $1,000,000 Combined Single Limit Third Party Bodily Injury (including Passenger Liability) and Property Damage each occurrence. This coverage and limit are in excess of the liability coverage carried by the pilot / owner of the aircraft, including the minimum(s) of $100,000 or $300,000 per seat Passenger Liability depending on the gross take-off weight of the aircraft involved.
The organizers from the COPA Flight as well as COPA members and non-members who are, for example, a marshaller, escort, or other volunteer (including pilots who spend part of their time engaged in ground volunteer duties) are covered for Third Party Bodily Injury and/or Property Damage while so engaged.
If the event is to be held at or near an airport that has a Flight Service Station or Control Tower then the facility supervisor should be notified of the event a few weeks in advance. Depending on the expected traffic, NAV CANADA may increase the number of Tower or FSS staff on duty to accommodate the additional traffic. The NAV CANADA facility supervisor will need to know: event date start and completion times approximate number of flights aircraft types involved route and altitude frequency for communications if outside of the Control Zone or Mandatory Frequency area.
All participants in the Discover Aviation program must complete the following liability waivers. See below for a variety of waiver forms your COPA Flight can use. If your participants are using the online version, please ensure they are aware to either forward their confirmation email to your COPA Flight or are prepared to show your registration desk at your event. The consent waivers do include a photo release component, if the participant does not agree to having their photo released, they can still participate in the program. Please ensure any photographers are aware of their request.
- the print-friendly version / fillable form (please send completed forms to email@example.com)
- the online version (participants must show submission receipts to COPA Flights)
Event briefing template
Click here for an event brief template for Discover Aviation event organizers to complete and share with your fellow COPA Flight members. An event brief serves as a map, of sorts, charting the course for you and your COPA Flight from point A (at the very beginning of your event planning journey) to point B (a successful event). By using an event brief, your COPA Flight will ensure all the moving pieces fall into place without any surprises.
Upon completion of the form below, COPA may have event materials such as certificates, banners and other marketing items available for use for our local COPA Flights. Many of these are one-time gifts.
Suggested materials and equipment
- Discover Aviation pull-up banner and table cloth
- Tables and chairs
- Signs directing cars to exact location on the airport and for various stations such as sign-up, collecting forms, issuing certificates etc.
- Pencils and pens
- Name tag labels
Event management tool
COPA require COPA Flights to use any particular event management tool. There are many options available, including Eventbrite, Kambeo.io, and a customized tool available to members that was developed by COPA member Jeff Page (JPage@Qenesis.com).
For an efficient and safe operation, volunteers should be assigned to various roles such as:
- Checking all pilot and aircraft documents.
- Verifying, completing and checking signed waiver and registration forms.
- Briefing participants on aircraft safety.
- Escorting participants to and from aircraft.
- Completing the Discover Aviation certificate for program participants and present it to them after their flight.
- Monitoring the safety of the ground and air operation (a pilot with no other duties should be dedicated to this role).
- Taking photos to capture the event and to send to firstname.lastname@example.org for COPA to promote
Insurance coverage is provided for all organizers and volunteers.
Ground school/safety briefing
Once registered, participants should go to a designated area for ground school. A static display aircraft or a model should be available. A briefing must be provided to everyone who will fly, emphasizing flight line safety and acceptable behavior. A walk-around of the static display aircraft or model should follow the flight line safety briefing. Aircraft components should be explained to assist the participants being flown in understanding how aircraft work.
As a minimum, the following topics should be covered in the ground school:
- Ramp procedures for approaching and walking away from the aircraft
- Aircraft entry and exit procedures
- How to climb into the aircraft
- How to unbuckle seatbelts and operate the exit door in the event of an emergency)
- In flight procedures
- Use of headphones
- Remaining quiet when the pilot signals to do so for radio communications
- Landing and takeoff
Ground school should be limited to about 15-20 minutes. While the ground school is taking place the registration personnel can allocate the participants to aircraft.
Either the pilot or a designated, qualified person must escort the participants to and from the aircraft. The flight line should be clearly marked with a barricade or other distinctive features and all participants briefed that no one is permitted on the flight line side of the barricade unless they are accompanied by a designated, qualified person.
Program incentives for participants
Participants of the Discover Aviation program are entitled 12-months of free online ground school via COPA’s partner, Hangaaar and a 90-day free trial of Infinite Flight Pro. To sign your participants up, please provide COPA with their first and last names, as well as a unique email address.
COPA encourages our COPA Flights to solicit sponsorship to enhance the overall experience of your events. Please click here for guiding materials your COPA Flight can use to improve start and maintain relationships with local businesses and aviation groups.
Event registration form
We kindly ask this form to be completed at least 2-3 weeks in advance of your event. This will give us more time to process background checks and to ship any marketing materials to your COPA Flight.
Personal discovery flights
For pilots seeking to provide a one-on-one flight, please ensure to complete a background check and to have your passengers complete an online consent waiver, found here.