Introduction to Soaring


If you're new to soaring, you are in for a treat as there is no more challenging or rewarding aviation activity.

Soaring pilots routinely climb silently to high altitudes, fly for hundreds of miles and stay up for hours using only their knowledge of natures hidden forces. Some have the idea that soaring is all speed and adrenaline and the sport certainly has these aspects but there is much more.

Soaring is the nexus of nature, art and technology. Modern gliders use super rugged high tech materials in their construction. Sophisticated instrumentation allows pilots to use natures forces efficiently. No other type of aircraft features such refined aerodynamics.

The art of soaring happens when technology, knowledge and skill are blended together in soaring flight.

So, what's it take to learn to fly a glider?

Your training will take one of two basic paths depending if you're already a rated pilot transitioning to gliders, or if you're starting from stratch.

Everybody wants to know how long it takes. The FAA is more concerned with the number of flights rather than hours when it comes to gliders. Their main concern is the number of landings (since you get 1 shot at each of them). Flying a glider is a lot like flying an airplane in many ways (the aerodynamics are the same), but very different in others (a lot less energy and no room for error). Most students with no previous flight experience will typically solo at or around 25 flights while transitioning power pilots will typically solo somewhere around 15-20 flights on average.

Your first lesson will cover the basics of controlling the glider, which will come more naturally to already rated pilots. In following lessons you'll progress into learning soaring skills once you understand the flight envelope and have the confidence to make the glider to your bidding rather than being just an interested passenger. You'll also learn how to handle the glider should something not go according to plan.

This of course takes time. Learning to fly is a lot like learning to play an instrument - it takes practice. The more often you fly, the quicker you'll reach your goal.