Maximizing Your Chance of Selection for Glider Pilot – Power Pilot Courses


The Glider Pilot Scholarship and the Power Pilot Scholarship are the most sought after opportunities in the Air Cadet Programme.  The selection standard is high, and the selection process is demanding.   As daunting as the selection process may seem, these scholarships are within reach for many Air Cadets who meet the eligibility requirements.   You can maximize your chance of being selected by doing the work and being prepared!    Nobody will give you this scholarship, you have to earn it.  Other cadets will be working hard to earn this opportunity, and you have to work as hard (or harder) than they do.   In short, how much do you want this?


Course Pre-Requisites

It is important to familiarize yourself with the course pre-requisites.  There is no point in applying for the course if you are not eligible.  Each course has MINIMUM requirements that must be met to be eligible to apply for / be selected for training.  All of these requirements must be met, without exception, and will not be waived under any circumstances.  These requirements are documented in the CATOs listed below, and are summarized as follows:


                CATO 51-01 Annex C

                CATO 54-26 (GPS)  

                CATO 54-27 (PPS)


1.     Maximum Age.   To be eligible for either the GPS or PPS Course, cadets must not reach their 19th birthday on or prior to the last scheduled day of travel after completion of the course.

2.     Minimum Age.    To be eligible for the GPS Course, cadets must have reached their 16th birthday on or before 01 September the year of the course.  To be eligible for the PPS Course, cadets must have reached their 17th birthday on or before 01 September the year of the course.

3.     Squadron Proficiency Level.    To be eligible for the GPS Course, cadets must have successfully completed Level 3 by the end of the training year leading up to the course.  To be eligible for the PPS Course, cadets must have successfully completed Level 4 by the end of the training year leading up to the course.

4.     Qualifying Examination.   To be eligible for either the GPS or PPS Course, cadets must successfully complete a Qualifying Examination on aeronautical subjects that is administered by the Canadian Forces.  The minimum passing mark for the exam is 50%.

5.     Education.    To be eligible for the GPS Course, cadets must have completed Grade 9 (or equivalent) by the nomination deadline (usually in late December of the training year).  To be eligible for the PPS Course, cadets must have completed Grade 10 (or equivalent) by the nomination deadline (usually in late December of the training year).

6.     Medical Standard.  To be eligible for either the GPS or PPS Course, cadets must hold a valid Transport Canada Category 3 or Category 1 Medical Certificate.  A copy of the Medical Certificate must be provided to the Regional Cadet Air Operations Officer no later than 01 June prior to training, or the cadet will be deleted from the selection list.  In addition to the requirement to hold a valid Medical Certificate, cadets should be aware that certain medical conditions and / or medications listed in CATO 51-01 Annex C may disqualify them from Air Cadet flying training. 

7.     Physical Limitations.     In order to meet weight and balance limitations of the aircraft to be flown, and to ensure that flight controls can be properly manipulated, specific physical limitations for the GPS and PPS must be met:

                 a.  GPS Course.   Cadets must meet the following height and weight requirements:

                                    (1)  maximum weight of 200 lbs in PT gear and socked feet 

                                    (2)  minimum weight of 90 lbs in PT gear and socked feet

                                    (3) maximum height of 6 ft 3 in in socked feet

                                    (4) minimum height of 5 ft in socked feet


                 b.  PPS Course.   Cadets must weigh no more than 250 lbs in PT gear and socked feet.


 8.     Other Restrictions.    Cadets who hold any  type of Transport Canada Pilots License are ineligible for the GPS Course.  Cadet who have been RTU from the GPS for academic failure or lack of flying ability are ineligible for the PPS Course.


Selection Process

Selection for both the GPS and PPS courses is governed by a National Course Selection Process.   This process varies slightly from year to year, and is published by the Director of Cadets each August for the upcoming training year.   The National Course Selection Process will be distributed to Squadron Commanding Officers and to SSC Chairs in early September, and will be posted on the ACL / BCPC website under the “Squadron Information” drop-down menu.   Some key elements of the selection process that you should be familiar with include the following:

1.     Ground School.    You will have to write and pass a Qualifying Examination.  Furthermore, how well you do on that exam will be reflected in your overall merit score for the selection process.   The examination is comprehensive and covers a broad spectrum of aviation subjects.   Most Squadrons will organize a Ground School Course during the September to December period to help prepare you for the exam.  It is important that you attend these classes, pay attention, do your homework, and study!  

2.     Application.   Applications for the GPS or PPS Course must be entered into Fortress by the Squadron staff by the course application deadline.  The deadline date for the 2016 GPS and PPS Courses is 11 December 2015. Late applications will normally not be considered.

3.     Narrative.   When you submit your application, you will also be required to submit a written narrative explaining why you feel you are a good candidate for the course.  This narrative will be graded by a panel consisting of members of the Air Cadet League and staff from the Comox Cadet Flying Training Centre, and will be assessed on content, format, spelling and grammar.

4.     Qualifying Examination.  Cadets applying for the GPS or PPS Course must successfully complete the National Qualifying Exam.   Only cadets who have submitted an application and who meet the course pre-requisites will be authorized to write the exam.   The date for the exam will vary from year to year, but is generally the first Saturday of the first full weekend after New Years Day.  In order to preserve the integrity of the exam and to ensure the fair treatment of all applicants, the Qualifying Exam is administered to all cadets on the same day at examination centres throughout the province.  Make sure that you will be available to write the exam on the scheduled date.   Requests to write the exam on an alternate date will not be considered except under exceptional circumstances such as a death or serious illness in the family.   Exam results will normally be made available to Squadron COs by mid January.  Cadets who pass the examination will continue on through the remainder of the selection process.  Cadets who do not obtain a passing mark on the exam will not be scheduled for an interview, and their applications will no longer be considered.

 5.     Scholarship Board / Interview.    Scholarship Boards will be conducted at locations throughout the province during the period from late January to mid February.  If you pass the Qualifying Exam, you will be scheduled to attend one of these Scholarship Boards, at which your application file will be reviewed, your documentation will be verified, and your height and weight will be checked to confirm compliance with the course pre-requisites.  You will also undergo an interview by a panel consisting of senior members of the Air Cadet League and staff members of the Cadet Flying Training Centre.  You will be asked to respond to questions covering a broad range of subject areas including:

                  a.  your personal interests, activities, goals, and expectations

                  b.  your involvement in the Air Cadet Program

                  c.  your knowledge of  the Air Cadet Program 

                  d.  your knowledge of / interest in the course you have applied for

                  e.  your knowledge of current events


The members of the interview board will assess your answers to these questions, as well as your ability to communicate effectively.  You will also be assessed on your dress and deportment  during the interview.   Your Squadron should help to prepare you for your interview by conducting “mock boards” that will give you a sense of what to expect and how to conduct yourself during the interview.  You must also take some personal initiative to get ready for the interview:

                   a.  read up on the course you have applied for

                   b.  understand the nature of the training you will receive

                   c.  review the material you studied in preparation for your Qualifying Exam

                   d.  brush up on current events by watching the news and reading the newspaper

                   e.  make sure that your uniform is sharp 


Scoring and Merit Listing

Cadets who meet all of the course pre-requisites and who complete all required elements of the selection process  will be merit listed with all other qualified applicants from British Columbia.  Ranking on this merit list is determined on the basis of a numerical score out of 100 points.  In order to be merit listed,  you must have a combined total score of 60 points or higher.  The merit list score consists of the following components:

                        Qualifying Exam Mark —————————————————  30 points possible

                        Education (School Marks) ———————————————  20 points possible

                        Self Expression (Narrative) ——————————————–   5 points possible

                        Attitude & Motivation Towards Air Cadets (from Board) ——-  20 points possible

                        Attitude & Motivation Towards the Course (from Board) ——  15 points possible

                        General Knowlege (from Board) ————————————–    5 points possible

                        Dress and Deportment (from Board) ——————————–   5 points possible

                        Total Possible Score ————————————————–  100 points possible


Final Selections

The completed provincial merit list is forwarded to the national office of the Air Cadet League of Canada no later than 31 March of the training year.  The national office, in cooperation with CF staff from DCdts will review all provincial merit lists.  Once confirmed and approved, Selection Lists for the courses will be made directly from the Merit List, starting at the top and working down until all available course slots are filled.   Notifications of successful applicants will be forwarded to the Squadron COs and Squadron Sponsoring Committee Chairs, which normally occurs by mid April.

The number of cadets who will receive a flying scholarship will vary from year to year, as the number of training slots assigned to each province is based on the Air Cadet population.  Normally, British Columbia will select and train approximately 42 cadets on the GPS Course and approximately 35 cadets on the PPS Course.   The competition for these slots is fierce, and the difference in points between cadets who are selected and those who are not can often be very small.  In short, every point counts!   It is important for you to put your best effort forward in all aspects of the selection process.   However, it is important to note that you do not need to be “perfect” to be selected.  It is common to see cadets who may score low in one area of the selection process, yet they “pull up their socks” in the other areas and are selected for flight training.  


Tips and Hints to Optimize your Chances

The following are some tips and hints to help you prepare for the selection process, to maximize your chances for successful selection, and to maximize your chances to successfully complete the course.

1.     Make Sure you are Eligible.   The mandatory pre-requisites for the GPS and PPS courses are clearly stated in the references listed above.  Make sure that you meet ALL of these requirements.  Someone may tell you not to worry about those requirements, that they can be waived, or that an exception can be made, or that it won’t be noticed.  Do NOT believe that.  These pre-requisites are strictly enforced, without exception.   Even after selections are complete, cadets who are subsequently found not to meet any of these pre-requisites will be de-selected or even RTU from the course.  For example, if you miss the age cutoffs by a single day, your application will be rejected.  As another example, consider a cadet who weights 220 pounds and wants to apply for the GPS course.  They promise to lose the 20 pounds needed to meet the 200 lb limit, so their application is submitted “in good faith”.  The cadet does well on the qualifying exam and the interview and is selected for the course, conditional on meeting this weight limit.  However, they only get their weight down to 205 pounds.  On arrival at the Cadet Flying Training Centre, every cadet is weighed and measured.  The cadet in question does not meet the course requirements, and he / she will immediately be RTU.

2.     Work Hard at your Squadron.    Squadrons are limited in the number of applicants they can recommend for the GPS and PPS Courses, with the number being based on the size of the squadron – larger squadrons can recommend more applicants.  Squadron COs will take steps to recommend the best and most deserving cadets for these courses, and they will look at your performance over your entire cadet career – not just the last three months.    How hard you work at the Squadron will determine whether you will even get a chance as one of these flying scholarships.

3.     Work Hard at School.   Your academic performance at school is worth 20% of your potential merit list score – this is significant.  You don’t need to be an “A” student to be selected, but every point counts.

4.     Qualifying Exam Preparation.   Many cadets do poorly on the qualifying exam, and this is entirely due to poor preparation by the cadet.   The exam is not difficult, it is not tricky, and you don’t need to be a genius to do well on the exam.   However, the exam does cover a lot of material that is unique to aviation, and you need to work hard to prepare for the exam.   Attend your Squadron’s ground school classes, do the homework, and study!  

5.     Prepare for the Interview.    Once again, there are few surprises about what to expect at the interview.  The Squadron should help prepare you for how to conduct yourself at the interview, but you need to study and prepare as well.    Learn about the Air Cadet League and what they do for air cadets;  learn about the military, and what they do for air cadets;  learn about the Cadet Flying Training Centre, what they do, the types of aircraft they operate;  learn about the course you so badly want.

6.     Dress and Deportment.   At the Selection Board, your score includes 5 points for dress and deportment.  These are ‘free points” if you put in the effort.  Make sure your uniform is “tip-top”, that it fits properly, that it’s not worn or damaged, that it’s clean, that its properly pressed, and that the badges and other accoutrements are properly worn.  And make sure your boots are highly polished!  The difference in merit list scores between the last cadet to be selected and the next cadet on the list may only be fractions of a point – your standard of dress at the interview might make all the difference!

7.     Medical Certificate.    The pre-requisites for both the GPS and PPS course specify that you must have a Transport Canada Category 3 or Category 1 Medical Certificate, and that a copy of your Medical Certificate must be received by RCA Ops (Pacific) before close of business on 01 June, approximately 4 weeks prior to the course.   Unfortunately, cadets who have been selected for a flying scholarship will be taken off the course for failing to meet this simple requirement.  

The problem arises from the fact that the cadet (or his/her parents) are responsible for the cost of getting the Medical Certificate.  Typical costs for an aviation medical exam range from $100 to $200, and Transport Canada charges a $55 administrative fee to issue the Medical Certificate.  In order to avoid “wasting” up to $250, many cadets delay booking their medical appointment until they have passed the Qualifying Exam and know that they are moving forward in the selection process.

Unfortunately, the process of getting your initial Medical Certificate can take many months, and it is a process over which DND, the ACL, and the Squadron have absolutely no control.  The process requires that you see a Transport Canada certified Civil Aviation Medical Examiner (CAME).  These are physicians specifically trained in aviation medicine.  Your family doctor cannot do this for you (unless he also happens to also be a CAME).    To locate a CAME where you live, you can access the Transport Canada Website at the link provided here —————

CAMEs tend to be very busy, and hence you will probably have to wait 2-4 weeks to get an appointment with the CAME.   The medical examination itself is relatively straight forward, but if the standard test results identify anything unusual, if you have any chronic conditions, or if you are taking any medications, the CAME may need to refer you to a specialist for further assessment before they will endorse your application for a Medical Certificate.  Statistically, about 10% of initial applicants for an aviation Medical Certificate will be referred to a specialist.   You may wait as much as 2 months just to see the specialist  (who is normally even busier than your CAME), and it may take another 2-4 weeks before your CAME receives the results from the specialist.  Once the CAME is happy that you are medically fit, there is still one more step in the process.  The CAME does not have the authority to issue an initial Medical Certificate, only to renew them.  Your application will be sent (with the CAME’s recommendation) to the Transport Canada Regional Medical Officer, who will review your file prior to issuing the medical certificate, which will be mailed to you.  This administrative part of the process can take an additional 4-6 weeks.   

If you do the math, if you are one of the 10% who will be referred to a specialist, it could take as long as 5-6 months to get your Medical Certificate.  If you wait until January to book your medical appointment, you will probably not receive your Medical Certificate until June or July – which means you’ve just lost your flying scholarship.   While the decision of when to contact your CAME is yours, you are strongly encouraged to book your appointment with the CAME as early as possible. 

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