Most glider training is conducted by individual flight instructors through membership in a glider club, but there are several commercial glider companies offering flight training, sightseeing glider rides, and glider towing services. In addition, some colleges and universities offer glider pilot training as a part of their overall pilot training curricula. To learn more about the pros and cons of club vs. commercial flight training, go to http://www.soargbsc.com/inststud/student/clubvscomml.htm.
Check3GPS Readiness Quotient
Your supervisor may use the following checklist to determine if you have adequately addressed the risk factors for soaring. If you can answer “yes” to all the questions below, you should be good to go!
1. Are you Federal Administration Association (FAA)-certified to fly sailplanes and are you current? Or, are you flying with someone who is certified and current?
2. If necessary, are you going to take a refresher flight with a certified flight instructor glider (CFIG)?
3. Are you familiar with the local type of soaring conditions and procedures (wave, ridge, thermal)?
4. Are you familiar with the local method of launching (aerotow vs. winch, etc.)?
5. If you plan on carrying passengers, will you give them a thorough pre-flight briefing?
6. Are you properly insured for soaring flying activity?
7. Do you perform routine maintenance checks on the sailplane?
8. Do you have current charts (e.g., visual flight rules (VFR) sectional) and use a radio?
9. Have you considered weight and balance, density altitude, and performance for this sailplane?
10. Do you have an emergency number on file with the airport?
11. Are you current in the type of sailplane you plan to fly and is it mechanically sound (up-to-date inspections)?
12. Are you adept at and aware of see-and-avoid requirements to avoid midair collision?
This checklist has been adapted from the Pacific Air Forces High Risk Activities Guide.
Top Hazards And How To Mitigate Them
1. LACK OF PROFICIENCY/TRAINING
Mitigate: Soaring is a well-regulated sport, and the FAA will not let you fly solo or earn a license until you have completed a FAA-certified training program and passed both the relevant written test and combined oral and flight exam known as a checkride. Nevertheless, the vast majority of soaring accidents are caused by pilot failure to maintain control of the aircraft. Given the complex set of knowledge and skills for soaring and ongoing advances in sailplane design and technology, pilot proficiency deteriorates very quickly if basic and emergency procedures are not practiced regularly. The FAA mandates a minimum of three takeoffs and three landings every 90 days and completion of a flight review every 24 months for all licensed glider pilots. Advanced forms of the sport, including cross-country, aerobatics and mountain soaring, require many additional hours of ground and flight training.