I'm about to head off to Canada (Montreal specifically) for a few weeks and was wondering if anybody had any tips on GA flying over there?
I'm up to speed with regard to the TC validation cert (thanks to my fellow PPruners!), but can anyone offer some insight into the actual flying, general procedures differences compared to IRL/UK flying, comms etc.?
Also, could anyone recommend some good schools in the Montreal area that are used to dealing with european hour builders!?
Only massive difference I can think of is that in Canada you have to file a flight plan for any trip further than 20nm from your home base, but that is so much easier in North America than here... Other than that, very similar to flying in the US.
I personally tried out Dorval Aviation, located on Montreal International airport. They have a couple of C172 and the rental price includes airport fees. Interesting experience to get ATC telling you 'please expedite runway exit, BA flight from London is on short final'. They also provide float plane lessons. Also went to Cargair and Air Richelieu, at St Hubert. Both good schools: Cargair is very organized and professional. Air Richelieu has some fancy Cirruses.
I would also recommend to take advantage of your presence there to do a trip to the Niagara Falls via Toronto: unforgettable trip! Nearby you also have Quebec, Ottawa and Mont Tremblant, all worthwile destinations.
A flight plan is only required in the absence of other forms of notifying your flight. A "flight itinerary" with a responsible person is an acceptable alternative. If you have rented the plane, and are telling them where you are taking it, that should suffice.
I'm not as familiar with the rental outfits in the Montreal area (though I was there two weeks ago) so I will defer to others. There is a very convenient GA airport just west of Montreal called "Les Cedars", though the other places are fine too.
If you're bored, fly up to Mirabel. Ask if there is a landing fee (I don't know). If it's reasonable, land on a 12,000 foot runway, at an airport which is not at all busy.
A flight east just past Quebec city will take you to an island in the St. Lawrence, with a runway, and very quaint community. North of there, a flight up the Saugeny river is spectacular, though get a chart, and watch for wires, there's a span hundreds of feet above the water. Pay attention, and they're easy to see. Very rugged terrain - go only in good weather.
Be aware, "distances are farther than they appear at first glance". As Genghis told me: "England is where they think 100 miles is far, Canada is where they think 100 years is old". Plan your fuel stops.
In Quebec, you will find that French is very common in controlled airspace. The controllers will communicate in English no problem, but the other aircraft in the pattern may not. That will leave you having no sense of where anyone else is in the pattern.
Niagara Falls is a good flight, though several hours from Montreal. Toronot airspace is no problem if you follow the shoreline, and talk to the required controllers. The falls itself is closely regulated as to pattern and altitude for overflight, so don't stray.
Gatineau airport on the north side of Ottawa is home to the Vintage Wings of Canada collection - well worth a visit. And The downtown airport in Ottawa is where the fabulous Canadian aviation museum is located. Another very worthwhile visit.
I've no doubt there may be the odd grumpy controller but I've yet to come across one in Canada. Have fun!
Thanks for the fantastic suggestions, keep them coming!
On first glance, Niagra / Toronto does seem like a lengthy round trip from Montreal, but I do have to complete my 300nm+ qualifying cross country flight for future CPL issue, and this seems like a great excuse to do it!
Well, if its a long cross country you need to do, you might as well come north of the lakes via Manitoulin Island, and then Drummond Island in Upper Michigan to Oshkosh for a visit, and then go home again south of the lakes via the Chicago shoreline, Detroit & Toronto
Or go to Thunder Bay along the north shore of Lake Superior from Manitoulin Island - absolutely fantastic scenery! You can re-fuel at Sault Ste. Marie, Wawa or perhaps Marathon - better check out Marathon for Avgas.
Here's a very poor quality copy of the IMAX film North of Superior:
For 300 nm from Montreal, try Sudbury, Muskoka or the St. Laurence North or South Shore towards Baie-Comeau or Rimouski (mind you, it's almost cheating to just follow the river). Following the St. Laurence and stopping at Quebec to gawk at the old town and/or overnighting at Ile d'Orleans should satisfy the tourist instincts.
The folks where you rent a plane from will certainly be able to suggest some good 300 nm XCs.