It’s definitely worth to begin your future career of a commercial pilot with a glider pilot course. Although it’s not compulsory, the experience and knowledge acquired during a glider course pay off in subsequent aviation courses.
Gliding is a great adventure – the first contact with aviation, usually the very first flight ever, first solo flights, strong emotions, and the accompanying adrenaline. Moreover, gliding is a constantly growing connection with other people who share your passion, always looking up to the sky, a unique airfield atmosphere, but also work and equipment maintenance, self-discipline, helping each other and keeping each other safe. According to most pilots, gliding is the most beautiful kind of flight. It’s a common starting point where most airline and military pilots begin their aviation adventure, returning to this sports discipline with a teary eye.
Glider flights can take up to several hours owing to rising bubbles of warm air inside which the glider is circling and is lifted in consequence. This phenomenon is called a ‘thermal’ – it’s the essence of gliding and a source of satisfaction to pilots. Nevertheless, this sport depends to a large extent on weather conditions, due to which it requires patience and some luck. Although gliding can be practiced nearly all year round, in practice, however, the season usually lasts in lowlands from April to October, whereas in the mountains – throughout autumn and winter as well.
A glider training course can be taken by individuals over 14 years old.
How to begin a glider training? Go to the nearest aeroclub – preferably in winter, when theoretical training courses are being planned, and sign for one of those. A theoretical course is most often conducted on weekends and takes several weeks.
Usually, prior to the beginning of the gliding season. It is a vital step for undertaking practical training. The theoretical course covers areas, such as meteorology, navigation, glider construction, medical issues in aviation, principles of radiocommunication, principles of gliding flight aerodynamics, aviation law. It ends in an internal exam that verifies whether the student has successfully acquired knowledge provided during the training course and whether he complemented the said knowledge with information derived from books. A successfully passed exam
is necessary for proceeding to a practical training.
Practical flight training
The adventure with gliding starts at the basics, that is, from the so-called basic glider training, which is preceded by theoretical training. During a practical training, the student pilot learns how to take off and land the glider, and how to handle dangerous situations. Flights take place in still air or low air conditions and no turbulence, therefore, the basic training usually takes place early in the morning and in the afternoons until sunset. In the course of the training, the student pilot performs several tens of flights (ranging from 40 to 60) with an instructor and unassisted. The flights are flown in a circuit pattern, which means that after the take-off, the glider proceeds straight to approach landing by making a circle around the airfield. In the view of gliding as such, basic training is the least interesting type of flight due to the mentioned monotonous flights, the need to get up early or extremely early in the morning, as well as the physical exhaustion from flying and working on the airfield. You simply have to endure this stage with the awareness that the effort will be rewarded with long thermal flights that start after the basic glider training.
What’s next after a glider course?
After a basic training, the student pilot can fly without assistance, though only in the so-called airfield traffic pattern. Formally, he is still a student pilot. One he has learned how to perform take-offs and landings safely, and knows how to act in emergency situations, there comes the time to begin training flights that will prepare him for several hour-long glider flights in bubbles of warm rising air. At that stage, the student pilot is just about to experience the essence of gliding.
At that time, the student pilot learns how to handle deteriorating thermal conditions and, possibly, outlandings. It’s culminated with thermal flights the student pilot begins to train with his instructor, during which he learns how to remain within the thermal for an extended period of time. After several flights with the instructor, the student pilot embarks on solo thermal flights, drawing lots of satisfaction.
Meanwhile, you’d usually be trained for a one-seat glider. First solo thermal flights often take place on one-seat gliders.
Next, you ought to pass your theoretical and practical glider pilot licence (GPL) exams, which will open the doors to further possibilities, including: taking part in gliding competitions, glider flights, ridge and wave flights.