8 thoughts on “Why Flying Gliders Makes Safer Pilots

  1. Good article. In my view the benefits go well beyond stick and rudder skills. Improved lookout – glider pilots spend much time turning in close proximity to other fliers and aircraft, so lookout habits and scanning techniques must be very strongly ingrained. Circuit judgement – only one chance at landing so pilots develop an awareness of changing angles, perception of descent rate and shallowing or steepening angles to aim points, drift relative to ground, that lead to safer circuits. Meteorological assessment – glider pilots often develop improved ability to read the sky, assess where lines of energy exist, sources of rising and sinking air, changing conditions. Situational awareness – in particular the ability to assess what is going to happen – gliding develops multitasking and reading of environmental conditions that may affect flight, now and into the future, develops hypothesis testing about where the lift and other traffic may be. Airmanship – All these aspects help pilots in powered flying, beyond the obvious engine off power fail contingencies.

  2. “The FAA limits the credit for glider training toward a power ticket… It would be helpful… fair credit for the useful glider training they get before going for their Private Pilot Certificate.”

    What do you mean by these statements? “Private Pilot Certificate” is not a synonym for “airplanes, not gliders.” You can have a Private Pilot Certificate with a Glider Rating. Ditto with an ASEL rating.

    Assuming your comments are related to starting in gliders w/o getting a certificate, then continuing on to ASEL, you are incorrect. The FAA gives full credit for everything you do in a glider. The traditional “private pilot’s license” (despite certificates, not licenses in the US) requires 40 hours aeronautical experience, including a long list of specifics. Only those specifically required to be in a single engine airplane must have happened in, uh, a single engine airplane. Ditto the other way, only the things that must be in a glider must be in a glider. Ditto again for AMEL. Glider time counts towards required hours for a commercial certificate.

    I’d like to see these ‘limits.’ Maybe I am missing something. Where there is, in my opinion, an egregious lack of credit is going from sport pilot to private pilot. Depending on the instructor, it’s possible that NONE of the time counts.


    PS Generally a good article about why glider pilots can make safer airplane pilots. I’d suggest, though, the whole section about “non airplane/aircraft” such as “air chairs,” parachutes, and hang gliders hides or dilutes the the argument.

  3. I agree 100% about the need to change the certification requirements. I was a Private Pilot, Glider, when I decided to get my PPSEL. Almost none of the experience and previous testing was transferable in the eyes of the FAA. This is a shame because it really us the most logical and safest progression for flight training.

  4. This article is really well done. I hope we will see more gliding around the world. At our club often airline pilots come to really experience Flying…. that says it all. Just taking off from Pisa to go gliding in Portmoak Scotland…. can’t get enough…. cheers.

  5. I was a glider pilot before I became a power pilot , since you are allowed a certain number of hours to credit to your PPL I took all of my cross country flights and applied those.
    This cut down on the long cross country, and other flights so the only one I had to do was flight into a controlled airport.

  6. I flew as a private pilot for 25 years before getting my addon Glider rating. It was the best thing I ever did for flying.

    You learn A LOT more about the weather

    Your stick and rudder skills are enhanced

    Enhanced awareness turning base to final at low speeds which can occur. This can be deadly with low time pilots, especially hot slick power planes (Cirrus)

    Also, after getting my Helicopter rating, I know where the birds are! For some reason, they don’t teach Helicopter pilots that birds down low thermal from the grounds uneven heat. Identify the time and where the heat is rising, and 98 percent of the birds are no longer a danger… Bird strikes are a big issue with Helicopters…

    And, It’s fun!
    Diamond Da-40
    Robinson R-44
    ASW27b German Glider

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