Cascade Soaring Society offers flight instruction for it's club members. Instruction is provided on a voluntary basis by club members who are FAA certified flight instructors. This is a fantastic membership benefit and a great reason to consider joining our club!
Planning your path forward
Almost anyone with reasonable learning and physical capabilities can become a glider pilot...but it takes time and hard work, especially for beginners. Because we fly mainly on weekends there is a natural limit to the frequency of instruction we can provide. In order to accelerate your progress, we recommend augmenting your club-provided instruction with visits to a commercial soaring center, some of which are listed below:
Big Sky Soaring - Located in Paradise Valley, MT just north of Yellowstone NP - absolutely great place to fly high country and long distance in thermals often reaching beyond 18k! Plus it's a great place to get your checkride - private pilot to CFIG, including training & certification for winch launches.
Williams Soaring Center - Located just north of Sacramento, CA. Williams is a great soaring site and has excellent modern equipment.
Arizona Soaring - Located in Estrella, AZ, south of Phoenix. Estrella is the largest teaching center in the US. In addition to their very active primary program, they also have a well known aerobatic program taught in Grob 103's. Estrella is a great place to get an early jump on the soaring season.
Private Pilot Glider rating
Becoming a certified private pilot in gliders requires that you pass an FAA "knowledge test: (a 2 1/2 hour multiple choice test) followed by a "practical test" consisting of an oral examination and flight test given by a FAA-approved examiner. Power pilots transitioning to gliders must pass oral and flight exams; no written test is required.
While no medical certificate is required to fly gliders, all pilots must self-certify that they are medically fit to fly.
Transition pilots should note that flying gliders requires a skill set and a mind set different from those needed to safely fly powered aircraft. To help master soaring skills, all pilots should study the Glider Flying Handbook and a current edition of the FAA FAR/AIM manual. Check out our "Links" page for some great places to buy glider-related books.
Student pilots may solo at age 14. They may earn their private pilot certificate after 20 flights at age 16, provided they have logged 10 hours of flight time and 2 hours solo flight time that includes at least 10 launches.
Power pilots with 40 hours as pilot in command may add a glider rating after 3 logged hours of glider time, a minimum of 10 solo glider flights, and 3 instructional flights for exam preparation. Importantly, most transitioning power pilots wisely elect to take more instruction, because effective, safe soaring demands mastering a new set of skills.
Learning to fly gliders requires dedication, commitment to training, and practice. Dedicated training, however, has its rewards; soaring is pure, exhilarating flying at its best! We have frequently heard transitioning power pilots assert that "learning to soar made me a better pilot" and "this is the most fun flying I have ever done!"