A sailplane is normally launched by a power plane (aerotow) or by winch (a wire attached to a powerful engine).

Tow

  • Motorless flying by Cayley (UK, 1853), Montgomery (USA, 1883), Lilienthal (Germany, 1893)
  • Wright Brothers learn control by soaring amidst Wind and Sand: Flight of 1:00 min on 10/21/03
  • First glider contest: Intercollegiate meet hosted by Harvard College, 5/28-30/11. Won by Tufts, MIT
  • First well-known soaring record: 9:45 min duration by Orville Wright, Kitty Hawk NC, 10/24/11.
  • Soaring becomes organized sport at Wasserkuppe, Germany, 1920 (Versailles treaty outlaws power)
  • USA Glider clubs proliferate with air-minded youth, 1928. National Glider Association founded
  • First USA National Glider Contest, Elmira NY, 1930. All pre-WWII Nationals held at Elmira
  • Soaring Society of America founded May, 1932, to hold the 3rd National Glider Contest
  • Development phase: 1920-1940 (towing, 20:1 sailplanes, 3 forms of lift, distances to 500 km)
  • Expansion phase: 1960-1980 (SSA goes from 1,000 to 16,000 members, from 1 to 5 Nationals)

Soaring History (see "Wings like Eagles", P.A. Schweizer, Smithsonian Press)

  • Any FAA License may carry a Glider Rating. Endorsements are Aero-tow, Ground-tow, Motor-launch
  • To go solo: [Student Pilot Certificate, starting from scratch. 1 week-2 months. $400-$1,000]
    • Age 14, speak English, state no medical defects on application, obtain blank Student Certificate
    • Plan on a roughly 25 flight (aero-tow) or 40-flight (ground-tow) training sequence in a two-seater
    • Pass a pre-solo written test on FAA regs, flight characteristics, operational limitations
    • Receive instruction from a CFI-G in all areas listed in FAR 61.87 and be endorsed ready for solo
  • To fly passengers: [Private Pilot Certificate, starting from solo. 1 week-2 months. $400-$1,000]
    • Age 16, speak English, state no medical defects on application
    • Log 20 flights (10 solo) and 10 hours (2 solo) in gliders, instruction per FAR 61.107 and 61.39
    • Pass the standard FAA Private Pilot--Glider Knowledge Test on topics in FAR 61.105
    • Pass a Practical Test (oral and flight) with an FAA Designated Examiner
  • Licensed Airplane pilots often solo after 10 flights, add the Rating after 10 solos, 3 hr, and a Practical Test
  • To become a soaring pilot, follow SSA's ABC program: (Charles & Anne Lindbergh were C #9,10)
    • A Badge: go solo. B Badge: soar 1/2 hour. C Badge: soar 1 hour, spot-land, soaring instruction
    • Bronze Badge: soar 2 hours, simulate off-field landings, pass exam on Cross-Country techniques

Training (see FAA Regulations, SSA "Soaring Flight Manual". No 'power' experience needed)

  • FAI-IGC estimates over 150,000 active soaring pilots worldwide, with 80% in Europe
  • FAA records suggest approximately 38,000 glider-rated pilots in USA. SSA has 14,000 members
  • USA has 180 soaring Clubs (125 SSA Chapters), 150 Commercial Operators and soaring businesses
  • Every State in the Union has soaring activity, including AK and HI, 1-2 hours from any big city
  • Most active USA operation: USAF Academy. 800 solos/year, up to 100 flights/day
  • Typical USA soaring club will have 50 members, 3 gliders, 1 towplane, and make 2,000 flights/year
  • Adult Costs at typical club: $300 initiation, $30/mo. dues, $15/aerotow, $5/groundtow, $5/flight
  • FAA registry shows about 5,000 sailplanes in USA (1,000 trainers, 2,000 contest ships)
  • New two-seat training sailplanes cost about $30,000 (Metal, E Europe) to $80,000 (Fiberglass, Germany)
  • New single-seat contest sailplanes range from $20,000 (World Class) to $120,000 (Open Class)
  • USA has 4 domestic manufacturers, all offering composite kits, none offering two-seaters
  • Used sailplanes retain value ($8,000 1967 Libelle is $16,000 today), can be had for under $10,000

The coordinator for new members is Lyle HatridgeLyle

You can contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Joomla! Debug Console

Session

Profile Information

Memory Usage

Database Queries