Transition To Gliders

Transition To Gliders
Flight Training

Licensed power pilots come to the gliderport with a variety of skills, experience and knowledge. For this reason, it is not possible to predict how many dual flights or flight time will be required to reach solo or license requirements. Because of this, we do not offer a set price for transition pilot training.

Part 61.87 of the FAR's cover solo flight. Your instructor will review part 91 (flight rules) Part 830 (accident reporting) and the following procedures and operations:

 1 Proper flight preparation procedures, including preflight planning,  preparation, aircraft systems, and, if appropriate, powerplant operations.
 2 Taxiing or surface operations, including runups, if applicable.
 3 Launches, including normal and crosswind.
 4 Straight and level flight, and turns in both directions, if applicable.
 5 Airport traffic patterns, including entry procedures.
 6 Collision avoidance, windshear avoidance, and wake turbulence avoidance.
 7 Descents with and without turns using high and low drag configurations.
 8 Flight at various airspeeds.
 9 Emergency procedures and equipment malfunctions.
10 Ground reference maneuvers, if applicable.
11 Inspection of towline rigging and review of signals and release procedures, if applicable.
12 Aerotow, ground tow, or self-launch procedures.
13 Procedures for disassembly and assembly of the glider.
14 Stall entry, stall, and stall recovery.
15 Straight glides, turns, and spirals.
16 Landings, including normal and crosswind.
17 Slips to a landing.
18 Procedures and techniques for thermalling.
19 Emergency operations, including towline break procedures.

It is not common for student pilots to be permitted to fly cross country in gliders, but provisions are made in part 61.93.

To meet the requirements for the private glider flight test, you will need endorsements for all of the above, plus the items in 61.105:

1 Applicable Federal Aviation Regulations of this chapter that relate to private pilot privileges, limitations, and flight operations.
2 Accident reporting requirements of the National Transportation Safety Board.
3 Use of the applicable portions of the "Aeronautical Information Manual" and FAA advisory circulars.
4 Use of aeronautical charts for VFR navigation using pilotage, dead reckoning, and navigation systems.
5 Radio communication procedures.
6 Recognition of critical weather situations from the ground and in flight, windshear avoidance, and the procurement and use of aeronautical weather reports and forecasts.
 7 Safe and efficient operation of aircraft, including collision avoidance, and recognition and avoidance of wake turbulence.
 8 Effects of density altitude on takeoff and climb performance.
 9 Weight and balance computations.
10 Principles of aerodynamics, powerplants, and aircraft systems.
11 Stall awareness, spin entry, spins, and spin recovery techniques for the airplane and glider category ratings.
12 Aeronautical decision making and judgment.
13 Preflight action that includes - (i) How to obtain information on runway lengths at airports of intended use, data on takeoff and landing distances, weather reports and forecasts, and fuel requirements; and (ii) How to plan for alternatives if the planned flight cannot be completed or delays are encountered.

Part 61.107 lists the flight instruction required to be logged from an authorized flight instructor:

  1. Preflight preparations.
  2. Preflight procedures.
  3. Airport and gliderport operations
  4. Launches and landings.
  5. Performance speeds.
  6. Soaring techniques.
  7. Performance maneuvers.
  8. Navigations.
  9. Slow flight and stalls.
  10. Emergency operations.
  11. Postflight procedures.

As a rated power pilot, you  need forty hours of combined flight time in heavier than air aircraft, three hours of flight training in a glider in the above listed operations, with an authorized flight instructor within the preceding 60 days prior to the test. Your flight time must include 10 solo flights in a glider and 3 flights with a flight instructor in preparation for the flight test.


FAA-S-8081-22 is the FAA Flight Test Standards that will be used when you take the flight test. The FARs require you to receive instruction and demonstrate competency in all pilot operations listed in Part 61 of the regulations.

As a licensed power pilot, you may find the glider flight instructor taking for granted that you know more than you really do. For your own good, and to save the embarrassment of failing a flight test, be sure to review the flight test standards and the FAR requirements to be sure all areas have been covered, and the appropriate log book endorsements have been made.

This does not mean that it is required to repeat flight training just to fill up the log book. If you are able to perform any flight maneuver to the standards required by the flight test guide, well and good.

Long ago, commercially rated glider pilots were able to give flight instruction. The FAA passed new regulations establishing glider flight instructor ratings. In the good ol' days, power pilots were sometimes permitted to solo gliders with only a couple of dual flights, and in some cases were soloed with only a ground briefing and no dual flights! I'd like to believe that those days are over, but just recently I was told of a power transition pilot who was soloed with only two dual flights.

A transition glider course should have a minimum of eight to ten dual flights for a current, proficient power pilot to solo a glider.

The flight test includes an oral quiz on the following subjects:

1. PREFLIGHT PREPARATION, including documents, weight and balance, weather, flight instruments, glider assembly, and performance limitations.

2. GROUND OPERATIONS, including ground handling, visual inspection, and pre-takeoff check.

3. GLIDER LAUNCHES AND TOWS, including signals, crosswind takeoffs, slack line, boxing the wake, tow release, and abnormal procedures.

4. IN-FLIGHT MANEUVERS, including straight flight, turns, steep turns, recovery from unusual attitudes, maneuvering at minimum controllable airspeeds and stall recognition and recoveries .

5. PERFORMANCE SPEEDS, including best glide speed, minimum sink speed, and speed to fly.

6. SOARING TECHNIQUES, including thermalling, ridge soaring, wave soaring, and mountain soaring.

7. APPROACHES AND LANDINGS, including traffic patterns, normal and crosswind landings, slips to landing, downwind landings, and simulated off-field landings.


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