7 Steps to your Glider Pilot License

An overview of getting your glider pilot license with Hood River Soaring

1. Getting started . . . your first lessons (or shall we say impressions)

​If you know learning to fly is for you, if your sights are set on the sport of soaring or becoming an astronaut or somewhere in between, join Hood River Soaring (HRS) and start taking lessons! After all, the best power pilots are glider pilots.

If you're not sure that learning to fly is for you, and you want to feel it out, take a FAST Lesson to see if you're interested. A FAST Lesson is an introductory experience of 30 minutes of ground instruction with a 30-minute flight lesson where you get to put your hands on the controls and see if you have "the Right Stuff”! FAST Lesson Certificates are available from Hood River Soaring in collaboration with the SSA (Soaring Society of America.)

2. Begin taking flight lessons with an HRS CFIG (Certified Flight Instructor-Glider)

Meet with an instructor to discuss a personalized flight plan. Youth members (ages 13-25) may apply to be in the HRS Work-Study program to help defer the cost of learning to fly.

Get your student pilot license from IACRA (an FAA website that issues pilot licenses). Your FAA-Certified Flight Instructor for Gliders (CFIG) will help you with this.

Make sure you have a US Photo ID with you when you take lessons (driver's license, passport, or state-issued photo ID).

​Take at least one lesson a week to continue muscle memory progression. Two lessons a week is optimal if we have the CFIGs and Tow Pilots. (We’re working toward it!)

Become familiar with the following written materials:

  • Private Pilot Practical Test Standards for Glider FAA-S-8081-22: free PDF download on the FAA Website
  • Glider Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge by Russell Holtz or the FAA Glider Flying Handbook
  • Flight Training Manual for Gliders by Russell Holtz: This is an excellent book with some amendments for Hood River that will be explained by your CFIG (e.g. we do NOT land our gliders tail wheel first!).

If possible, take a Glider Ground School class to help prepare you for your FAA written and oral exams.

3. Pre-solo written exam

Once you have learned to fly the tow, perform basic maneuvers, safely land the glider, and gathered the required knowledge about flying your glider per FAR 61.87 (Federal Aviation Regulation), you will take a written exam and review it with your instructor. At that point, you will be prepared to solo.

4. Solo!

Student pilots may solo at a minimum age of 14 with a student certificate endorsed for solo flight at the discretion of an FAA-Certified Flight Instructor for Gliders (CFIG).

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

  • are at least 16 years of age;
  • have logged at least 10 hours of flight time in a glider, including at least 20 total glider flights;
  • have two hours of solo flight time in a glider;
  • and have passed the FAA written examination.

Once you solo, it is very important to begin intense study for the FAA Written Exam using a high-quality test bank question prep source like:

  • ASA-Private Pilot Test Prep Book or App (look online for vendors)
  • Dauntless Online Private Pilot Test Prep

It is best to commit 2-3 weeks to reviewing this material; then schedule to take the exam at an approved testing center such as Gorge Winds at the Troutdale Airport. A written endorsement from your CFIG is required in order to take the exam.

6. Prepare for your FAA Check Ride

Your check ride consists of two parts: an oral examination and a flight exam. During the flights, you will review all the maneuvers required in the PTS.

Schedule with your instructor to help prepare you for the oral portion of the check ride.

You will need to take at least three flights with your instructor within 60 days prior to your check ride date.

Your instructor will submit your name to the FAA for a check ride and call the DPE (Designated Pilot Examiner).

7. Check Ride Day!

Get a good rest the night before your check ride. You studied and flew hard the two weeks prior, so you are going to do great!

Don’t BS your examiner! Ask for clarification on questions you don’t understand.

Pass your check ride and celebrate by going flying!

If you don’t pass your check ride, review the items that need work with your instructor. Retake the check ride and then celebrate by going flying!