Today I passed my oral and practical exam to add a glider rating to my Private Pilot license. I’d like to thank all the fine people at Turf Soaring near Phoenix, Arizona. Especially Dan Webber and Carl Baxter, my friendly CFIs.
Learning to fly gliders has been a very rewarding experience. I decided to pursue the rating because I’ve heard from many pilots that it would refine my stick and rudder skills – I found this to be absolutely true and I’d recommend every pilot take at least a few flights in a glider, especially after doing Instrument training if you’ve used the autopilot a lot. I find that I’m much more confident with my landings these days thanks to the planning and constant glidepath assessment that I perform in a glider. Having an engine and the option for a go-around feels like a luxury these days!
But beyond the skills added to my repertoire I also learned about a whole new sport and the thrill of finding and soaring in thermals. During my glider training I had a flight that lasted 1.5 hours, during which my CFI helped me find thermals and ride them up to almost 10,000 MSL, just under the cloud base. I can’t describe the joy of that experience but I do recommend that anyone fond of flying or sailing give it a try!
This winter I plan to learn mountain-wave soaring up at Lake Tahoe – I find it absolutely fascinating that a glider can make it past FL 350 without an engine, where a Cessna 172 can barely make it to 10,000 feet!
So Carl, Dan, and everyone else at Turf: thank you for a wonderful introduction to an incredible sport.