Transition Pilots: Adding a Glider Rating


Adding a Glider category rating to your existing airman certificate is an enjoyable way to satisfy your FAR 61 Flight Review requirements and many pilots have done just that.  The requirements imposed on transition pilots are quite modest; for example, if you’re adding a rating no higher than your existing grade of certificate (Private or Commercial) there’s no written FAA Knowledge Test to take.  FAR Part 61 also allows you to take the practical test with a Designated Pilot Examiner after as little as three hours of dual instruction.

However, learning to fly a sailplane is only a small part of the fascinating journey to becoming a soaring pilot.  A fully qualified sailplane pilot understands subtle aerodynamic considerations that are rarely taught in the world of powered flight, has much deeper insights into meteorology than his or her airplane-only colleagues, and practices “low-loss” energy management techniques that are almost unknown to other flight disciplines.  Many professional pilots have found their glider training to be very helpful in their airline or other compensated flying.

Best of all, soaring is recreational flying as it was meant to be!  It’s basic VFR aviation, with minimal interaction with ATC, without crewmembers to manage, usually without even passengers.  It’s hand-flying a simple, straightforward, viceless aircraft that handle impeccably; it’s testing yourself against the vagaries of the natural world; it’s camaraderie with fellow aviators who are as passionate about their airmanship as you are!

What kinds of pilots add glider ratings for the sheer enjoyment of it all?  Airline pilots, former tactical pilots, NASA test pilots, even astronauts.