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Can you become a pilot if you are colour-blind?

Can you become a pilot if you are colour-blind? Blog

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If you are colour blind, you may only fly during the day. For most private pilots this is not a problem, but in commercial aviation it is. Here's the thing.

What is the problem?

When flying at night, colours are more important than during the day. For example, aircraft have navigation lights at the tips of the wing that are either red or green. Red on the left side of the plane, as seen from the cockpit. Green on the right-hand side. When you meet another plane in the sky, you can tell from these colours which side of the plane you are facing.

Airport control towers also have red and green lights to give directions in case the radio equipment fails. Then it is important that you can see the difference between red and green.

Ishara test

One of the ways to see if you can distinguish colours well enough is the Ishara test. This is done during your flight medical examination. Someone who is not colour blind will see a 74 in the image. If you are colour blind you will see a 21:

Colour blind, now what?

If you don't pass the test, the flight medical doctor will do more tests with you. If it turns out that you are colour blind, you can only fly during the day.

Most PPL/LAPL pilots only fly during the day, so this should not be a problem for you. However, if you want to fly scheduled flights, you will have to be able to fly at night and this is a problem.

Can I fly without a licence?

Yes, you can. Even if you are colour blind you can just take a flying lesson. You fly with an instructor as captain. In that case only your instructor has to meet the medical requirements.

More information

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Then download our theory book "How an aeroplane flies" completely free of charge. This booklet describes in an accessible way the background of a first flying lesson. So that before or after your lesson you can read back what happened around you. You will read about, among other things:

  • How lift is created and thus how an aeroplane can fly
  • How to make a turn with an aeroplane
  • What the traffic rules on the ground and in the air are
  • And what all the buttons and gauges in the cockpit mean

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About Eveline van den Boom

The author of this article is Eveline van den Boom. In 2006, she received her first flying lesson as a birthday present; a beautiful flight over Rotterdam. That tasted like more!

In 2010, she got her PPL licence in Lelystad. In 2011, an aircraft was purchased: an Aero AT-3. This aircraft is still flying in the fleet with callsign PH-EVB.

She wrote the theory books "Theory of Flying" and "Theory helicopter flying". These can be ordered with your flying lesson and are also separately for sale on

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