Become a Glider Pilot

Beginning Students

Student pilots may solo at a minimum age of 14 with a student certificate endorsed for solo flight at the discretion of a FAA-Certified Flight Instructor for Gliders (CFIG). Generally, 30 to 40 flights with a CFIG are required to solo. This is roughly equivalent to 10-12 hours of flight time and is dependent upon the progress of the student.


After solo, student pilots may qualify as a Private Pilot-Glider provided they:

  • Are at least 16 years of age; and
  • Have logged at least 10 hours of flight time in a glider and that flight time must include at least 20 total glider flights, and
  • Have 2 hours of solo flight time in a glider, and
  • Have passed the FAA written examination; and
  • Have passed the flight exam with a FAA Examiner.
Licensed Airplane Pilots
Holders of a valid FAA Power plane license with 40 hours as pilot-in-command need a minimum of 10 solo flights to qualify to take the glider flight test. No written exam is required to add a glider rating to a power license. In all cases, refer to the Federal Aviation Regulations for details on pilot licensing.

If you're starting from scratch 
Learning to fly a glider with the Northwest Soaring Club is one of the least costly, and most accessible routes to achieving your soaring goals. Our two-seat trainers, experienced instructors, and supportive club environment can make learning to fly a truly uplifting experience.

Your flight training experience might begin with our winter Glider Pilot Ground School, a great way to get a leg up on the material you'll need to master to pass the FAA Private Pilot Glider knowledge test. It's not essential to pass the test before you begin flight training, but experience shows that getting past the written test is key to earning the FAA pilot certificate. If you miss the ground school, club instructors will coach you through the materials and concepts required to pass the test.

Student and instructor work on basic concepts and maneuvers in the initial flights. Once the student becomes proficient in aero-tow and basic flight maneuvers, along with demonstrating the ability to operate in the landing pattern and land the aircraft, the student progresses to solo flight. Under the instructor's supervision the student makes solo flights to gain experience and practice the maneuvers required to pass the Private Pilot Glider practical test. As the student progresses the instructor will make additional flights to monitor progress, and provide input on refining the student's technique. When the instructor is satisfied that the required maneuvers have been polished to the level required, the student will be signed off to take the practical test. 

Student pilots advance at their own pace. Everybody learns differently, and at our club learning progresses without pressure. Being a part of the club environment on flying days, when you'll be doing your training flights, is a deeply immersive aviation experience that is fun, and happens among friends.
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