Glider Rating Add-On: Upping Your Game
As a glider instructor and tow pilot—DURDEN NAILED not only the essence of flying gliders (pure fun—no pretense of business related aeronautical travel) but HOW to learn!
Yes, “racing glider” pilots can get caught up in aeronautical esoterica—but for most of us—it’s just FUN FLYING!
You’ll be a better fixed wing pilot as well—“every tow is a formation flight”—every landing is an engine-out spot landing—you’ll learn control coordination—and aside from the speed, gliders fly more like a jet than single-engine airplanes fly like a jet (put the nose down in most gliders and you pick up speed FAST—unlike most light singles).
DURDEN even touches on what causes glider pilots to remain in the sport (far more so than private pilot—airplane)—it’s the SOCIAL SIDE of flying! Unless you have a self-launching glider, NOBODY flies a glider by themselves—it takes PEOPLE to fly gliders—assembly (and a recommended “second set of eyes” to confirm)—walking it out to the flight line—“wing runners” and launch crew—and the TOW PILOT (perhaps the most valued pilot in the flight line!)
The need to interact with others in order to fly creates a real bond—but it doesn’t stop there! As lift diminishes and gliders are put away, the grilles come out—soaring is a sport where the entire family can be involved—much more social than “individuals making their way out to the airport for a solo flight.” Here in Minnesota, where “soaring is ‘difficult’ during the 6 months of winter”—soaring pilots still get together—just because they enjoy each other’s company. Airplane pilots—take note!
There is no “business use” of a glider—no pretension of “using the aircraft to take vacations”—just unabashed aeronautical FUN! Add the fact that insurance costs are low—that the glider can be stored on a trailer (eliminating hangar costs) and that a flight burns very little fuel—glider flying is AFFORDABLE!
One more comment—you can solo a glider at age 14–and the time counts toward your power license—a perfect way to get kids starting to fly! Almost every kid wants to do something to establish their own identity—and glider flying is one way to do that. It is an “adult” thing to do—with all of the responsibility that goes along with flying. Even though YOU may fly airplanes—you both have to learn glider flying—you are almost equals. Most kids would LOVE to have that relationship. GIVE IT A TRY!
Great article, Rick. The social aspect of glider flying is a lot of fun — this past weekend my local group had about a dozen glider pilots operating out of a remote rural airstrip, holding a barbecue at the cowboy bar across the road and camping out at a hot springs resort nearby. Plus we had great soaring flights with lift to 10,000 MSL, sharing thermals with golden eagles (the feathered kind, not the Cessna twins), and views of the Big Sur coastline. While in flight we are on the radio with each other, pointing out where good lift can be found and encouraging each other to make longer flights and explore new territory.
One technical correction regarding tow pilot privileges — a commercial certificate and second class medical are NOT required for the tow pilot to receive compensation. FAR 61.113(a) provides that “except as provided in paragraphs (b) through (h) of this section” a private pilot may not act as pilot in command of an aircraft for compensation or hire. Paragraphs (b) through (h) of FAR 61.113 list the things that a private pilot MAY do for compensation or hire. One of those paragraphs is FAR 61.113(g), which allows for a private pilot who meets the requirements of FAR 61.69 to act as PIC of a tow plane towing a glider — for compensation or hire.
A second class medical is not required in this circumstance because the tow pilot is only exercising private pilot privileges. A third class medical will suffice to allow for exercise of private pilot privileges. BasicMed should also suffice. See Section 220.127.116.11 of AC 68-1A, where the FAA states that the exceptions in FAR 61.113(b) through (h) apply to people operating under BasicMed just as they would apply to a person exercising private pilot privileges under a normal part 67 medical certificate.
The King Of Cool: Tony Bennett Sings For The Cabin
Perfect story John! The scene could not have been better choreographed for a rendition of “I Left My Heart In San Francisco.”
Corporate folks occasionally do celebrity passenger duty as well. Gerald Ford as ex-president was once one of ours for several consecutive days. (Thank you, Mr. President for the presidential cuff links even though I don’t have a shirt with cuffs to accommodate them). Querying his office in advance about what to serve on board in the way of catering, our office was told “one gallon of Baskin Robbins Butter Brickle on every leg. Nothing more nothing less.” Mr. Ford came accompanied by an administrative assistant and one Secret Service agent. Sure enough, even on the shortest of stage lengths, this party of three, and it was a party after every takeoff, easily polished off one gallon of Butter Brickle every time.
Poll: What Scares You The Most?
- Engine failures—the old subjective/objective argument. Almost all of the other emergencies can be avoided—“just don’t go there”—but there are few things you can do to proactively prepare for an engine failure—EXCEPT take glider lessons!
- The unknown. If there’s a button I need to know and I don’t. Or if there’s a skill that exists and I don’t have it.
- Nothing scares me after 30 years of flying or I would have left the field, that being said respect of each of the choices you should be thinking about.
- Engine failure – but specifically right after takeoff when you’re too low to turn back, but not high enough to have a great choice of forced landing spots.
- As a helicopter pilot with most of my 15,000 hours below 500 feet, wires and antennas.
- Turbulence from the rotor associated with mountain wave.
- FAA rulemaking.
- Annuals and ADs.
- My own human errors.
- Cost of new training aircraft.
- Fire and structural problems.
- A ramp check or airworthiness challenge by the FAA.
- Bird strikes.
- Mid-air, that’s why I never join the queue at Oshkosh. Waupaca is close enough.
- Government oversight.
- Student landings.
- Flight control malfunction.
- Others in the pattern…
- The people that hate airplanes.
- CFIT – if by “scares you the most” you mean “thing I spend most of my effort trying to avoid.”
- A fearful pilot needs to stop flying before they hurt someone – A good pilot respects the power of the situation and responds accordingly but does not fear it.
- Pilots doing stupid stuff in flight.
- Fire onboard over the ocean.
- Top two: ice and storms.
- Government, hands down!
- Other pilots.
- The layers upon layers of rules and regulations that must be adhered too.
- Engine failure near an urban area, shortly after t/o or before landing.
- Overall bad weather (winds, thunderstorms, etc.)
- Bullies in local government.
- Fire inside the aircraft.
- License suspension for an unintentional violation.
- Drone encounters.
- The FAA.
- Destination suddenly below minimums and all alternates below minimums.
- The government… nothing more than our government…
- Engine failure for sure. Sometimes I fly a human-powered airplane, so an engine failure would mean a pretty bad day for me!
- Screwing up.
- Government over-regulation.
- All of the above, with the exception of intentional stalls and spins done at a safe altitude.
- Getting lost.
- Stupid pilots.
- Fire at altitude.
- Unlandable terrain.
- Idiots with drones.
- Airline pilots.
- Big Brother.
- Engine failure with nowhere to put it down in urban areas.
- Government tyranny.
- Inflight fire/smoke.
- Doctors and lawyers in glass-cockpit SR22s.
- Climate change.
- Lack of stricter re-currency requirements for insurability.
- Dumb-ass pilots that know everything.
- The experience of a commuter crew.
- Job loss due to circumstances not in my control.
- An air horn blaring right next to my ear, when I was asleep.
- Hearing “Hey Watch This” over the radio!