Flying has been a dream for me since I was a little boy. My absolute dream career was to be a fighter pilot in the RAF. It's obviously a very hard career to get into, however I fell even before the first hurdle when I found out that I'm colour blind.

Finding out I was colour blind actually closed a lot of potentially enjoyable careers. Police, Armed Forces, Electrical all reject colour blind people.

I'd love to be able to fly, freely in a light aircraft - something like a glider or mosquito helicopter, but I just can't figure out where I need to start. Also, I'm not sure if it's financially viable.

Could someone give me a breakdown of costs and commitments needed?

Also, I'm assuming that being colour blind doesn't automatically mean I'm not able to fly?

Also, I'm in the UK

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    $\begingroup$ It's not a dupe because it's a different country... $\endgroup$
    – Jae Carr
    Commented Oct 28, 2014 at 1:34
  • $\begingroup$ Note that commercial pilot career may not be closed to you. There is a retired 747 captain around who apparently is colour-blind. The light signals are probably the only situation where you need to recognize some colours and it's only three of them. $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Commented Oct 28, 2014 at 19:21
  • $\begingroup$ As others have already mentioned, it is definitely possible to do a private pilot license while being color blind. A friend of mine did that and even got the necessary qualifications for landings on a glacier. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 16 at 11:58

4 Answers 4


My recommendation is: Join a glider club. This limits the expense and puts you into contact with many like-minded people. Make sure the club has several gliding instructors, so you will have enough chance for training lessons.

Did you try the UK gliding club finder yet?

I prefer gliders over powered aircraft because they expose you to the weather and the laws of aerodynamics much more directly. Also, the expenses per hour are much lower. At most clubs, you can expect to pay around £20 per hour to hire a glider, around £30 for an aerotow launch and around £8 for a winch launch.


There are a number of ways to 'get in the air'. Peter's mention of gliding is a good one. The requirements to get a glider license are substantially lower than any of the routes to a powered license. However it has obvious restrictions on weather, distance passengers etc. Time spent flying a glider will not count towards your requirements for a powered license if you decide to get one (though obviously many of the skills are transferrable). Gliding is also cheaper than other forms of aviation.

The next easiest way to get into the air is through a microlight permit. That's slightly more regulated than a glider, with slightly higher requirements, but also has restrictions on speed, passengers distance, weather, comfort etc.

The route with the highest requirements to get qualified, and also the highest cost, is the private pilots license. However that will get you the ability to fly an aircraft with a much higher comfort, capability and performance level. It's also opens up the route to more certifications - twin engines, instrument flying, commercial flying and even airlines (technically you can be a commercial glider or microlight pilot, but it's much rarer).

Only you can decide which route you prefer, taking into account all the factors.

The best way to find out about how you could achieve each one is to visit a club or a school where they do each. There are flying clubs or schools at virtually every working airport, and the internet will give you a list of glider or microlight clubs.

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    $\begingroup$ and check the medical requirements before you even begin. In my case that saved me a lot of money as I found out I'd almost certainly fail the medical after a year or two of training and flying (my eyes at the time were rapidly degrading, the expectation being I'd be what turned out to be below minimum within a few years. Luckily that's slowed down now and I'd be marginal). $\endgroup$
    – jwenting
    Commented Oct 30, 2014 at 9:04

From my reading of this (https://www.caa.co.uk/default.aspx?catid=49&pagetype=90&pageid=13879), colour-blindness means you can't get a class 1 (commercial) medical, but can get a class 2 (private) with a restriction that bars you from night flying.

I'm neither a medic nor colour-blind though so I'd definitely recommend you get in touch with an AME (authorised medical examiner, who you'll need to see anyway before going solo) to check before you pay for much training!

Costs for a full PPL... depends a lot on area, school, airport etc but you might be looking at something approaching £10k. That's £150/hr for a cheap plane, £30/hr for an instructor, and let's call it 50 hours (45 minimum + the exam + some leeway) to get 9k. Then 9 ground exams @ £25 = 225, and new study guides which are about £120 (I got mine 2nd hand from eBay for about £40 but the syllabus has changed; I've no idea how much). Initial medical exam is around £200, skills test around £170, CAA admin another £180. Oh, and your flying school may want a membership fee, let's say £100/year. That's, what, £9975? I've taken a few shortcuts (e.g. maybe you won't need 50hrs and I've ignored cheap stuff like a logbook, kneeboard, ruler marked in nm) but £10k seems reasonable to me as a rough estimate.

I've also ignored landing fees. My local fees were included but you'll need a few land-aways (at least 4?) at £10-20 each. Beware of the "local fees" thing... I've spoken to people who found much cheaper lessons elsewhere, but they didn't include any landing fees. I reckon I booked at least 100 landings/touch&gos during my PPL, which would have made that "cheap" rate a lot less appealing.


From the CAA website, MED.B.075 Colour vision:

(a) Applicants shall be assessed as unfit, where they cannot demonstrate their ability to readily perceive the colour that are necessary for the safe exercise of the privileges of the licence.

(b) Examination and assessment

(1) Applicants shall be subjected to the Ishihara test for the initial issue of a medical certificate. Applicants who pass that test may be assessed as fit.

(2) For a class 1 medical certificate:

(i) Applicants who do not pass the Ishihara test shall be referred to the medical assessor of the licensing authority and shall undergo further colour perception testing to establish whether they are colour safe.

(ii) Applicants shall be normal trichromats or shall be colour safe.

(iii) Applicants who fail further colour perception testing shall be assessed as unfit.

(3) For a class 2 medical certificate:

(i) Applicants who do not pass the Ishihara test shall undergo further colour perception testing to establish whether they are colour safe.

(ii) Applicants who do not have satisfactory perception of colours shall be limited to exercising the privileges of the applicable licence in daytime only.


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