Glider thread lessons and experiences


Figure to start a glider thread as suggested by others so we can share our experiences. I will say the club has safety first and foremost. They contact KJAN approach and let them know we would be flying NE of the airspace and they rerouted jet traffic around us. As soon as we called in the last flight, jet traffic resumed from the NE.

This thread I hope others will chime in to give me input to help me improve on becoming a better glider pilot and also I hope others share their soaring / glider experiences.

Every pilot needs to try this once in their career! Ok with this behind me, Back from glider lessons today.

Been waaaay too long, I was going through serious aviation withdrawal these past few days so came hell or high water, I was getting a lesson in this week. Rain, clouds and winds have been the show stopper these past 3 weeks.

I wasn’t sure today lessons were going to happen as winds were gusting between 20 and 25 knots. Got out to the airport at 4:30 and saddled up in the Blanik.

First flight was a non eventful flight, considered a warm up flight to get a feel for the glider again. I was “ok” on the tow using tips shared out here and in other forums to point the nose out to the outside wing on banks. This tip almost came to bite me in my fourth and final flight but it did help me keep the rope taught.

We did basic maneuvers and slowly orbited back down to earth from 2500 feet on the first flight lasting 1/2 hour. We used runway 27 and winds were direct crosswinds. I have to say my power flying experience made me shine on these approaches as it was nothing more then crabbing into the wind and slipping to lose the altitude. Speaking of altitude, I still need lots of practice controlling my descent with the spoilers. Unlike power where I used my throttle to control my descent, I obviously don’t have that in the glider. Pitch for airspeed and because the winds were so strong, instructor had me do a 60 knot final. Really honk the nose over to maintain that speed, quite different sight view as compared to a power plane. I felt like I was diving toward the runway!

Second flight, towed to 1700, never left the pattern, just made a circle or two to descend to pattern altitude.

Third flight, I think they put the cheap rope on. 200 AGL PING, rope goes bye bye. Plane was banking right so I turned right. I did slightly delay getting that nose over to get my speed to 55 knots. Because of the crosswind, my instructor said he would have turned left for a tighter circle radius to the airport. Heck, I tried that lesson and snafu’d that direction. Oh well, but he said I was fine, did what I had to do to get back to the airport.

Fourth and last flight, it got ugly behind the tow, to the point the instructor took the controls briefly. We took off, and the tow plane turned out earlier then normal to the right, and I pointed the nose to outer wing. Not sure what happened but once he cleared the tree line he zoomed up. I had the nose up and was below him but above the wake. I got too far outside the turn which of course exasperated my airspeed and when I kicked in right rudder to take up the slack, it worsened the slack because I am guessing my forward speed was accelerating. Still not quite sure what the instructor did to correct it but it was efficient and he turned the controls back to me. Last landing was on the shorter runway 18 as the hanger is on the 36 side. Landing was nice.

Soooo assessing myself today.

Over controlling still a problem. I still oscillate in yawing on tow, but it is improving. I am maintaining a relatively good sight picture with the tow plane slightly above the horizon and my nose is slightly below the horizon.

Landing. I have to learn how to use my right hand! In power flying, I only used it as a rest on the throttle. Touch here, and a touch there, and that’s it. With the glider, this just ain’t going to happen! I need to keep my right hand on the stick and left hand on the spoilers so I can control my descent better. Currently, I have been choking the stick with both hands. I know in time this will improve or it better improve LOL.

My feet and hands don’t want to work opposite directions. With power obviously keeping coordinated is important. Problem with rollout, you sometimes have to use complete opposite control movements to keep the downwind wing flying. So this could mean full right rudder and full left aileron. My instincts still having troubles computing this.

On coordinated flight, I am nailing that so stepping toward the rudder hasn’t been a problem thus far but still every once in awhile I find myself stepping on the ball and have to remind myself to step on the rudder the yarn points to.

All in all good 4 lessons today bringing me up to 15 flights for a total of 3.5 hours flight time.

I know now the glider really does slice through the turbulence. I would have had the snot kicked out of me today had today’s flight been in a power plane. The ride is remarkably smooth in spite the winds nearing 35 knots at 2500 and what ended up being closer to 15 to 20 knots on the ground when I got there.


I never flew a glider. Was a passenger only. But I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. From taking off, to hearing the pop as the tow line was released. Then all of a sudden, there was dead silence. It was just the pilot and I soaring all alone. Enjoying the peace and quiet of it all.

This was at Warner Springs in CA. Luckily the time of year I went the hills were green instead of brown. But I think the most amazing thing to me was the silence and the feeling of floating. I loved it.

I have flown in the Goodyear Blimp as well, but I will take a glider ride over the blimp any day.

I wish you luck in your new adventure.


I never flew a glider. Was a passenger only. But I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. From taking off, to hearing the pop as the tow line was released. Then all of a sudden, there was dead silence. It was just the pilot and I soaring all alone. Enjoying the peace and quiet of it all.

This was at Warner Springs in CA. Luckily the time of year I went the hills were green instead of brown. But I think the most amazing thing to me was the silence and the feeling of floating. I loved it.

I have flown in the Goodyear Blimp as well, but I will take a glider ride over the blimp any day.

I wish you luck in your new adventure.


Do you tow or do you have an engine?


I’m the guy in tow without an engine :wink:


This was my “mistake” :smiley:

And as you already describe, it’s something that really can’t be described in the context of textual message. Still amazes me how smooth the air is beside the stealthy quietness.

I did post my passenger flight in the Flight Aware members video thread if you are interested. May bring back fond memories for you 8) … 030#110030

Once I get past check ride (might do it after solo depending on my comfort level), I will start videoing some flights. If all goes to plan, I may get one of those “pen video cameras” and place it on the rudder, wing tip or some other place on the glider with some type of paint friendly tape and get some different angles.

Just as I did with power flight, I hope to take up pilots (and non pilots) to experience what I am going through. Such a different way of flying that power flight will never capture.


I received my first flight in a glider, in 6th grade, near STL. Thought it was the coolest thing. I joined CAP as a cadet and flew several more times. When I was 15 I went to flight encampment where I soloed. It was still one of the coolest things I have ever done. I remember giving the marshaller the thumbs up…when we began our takeoff roll (we had two aircraft, one was a Varga Kachina, the other a C152 painted in European olive drab camo!) the camo 152 towing me, I began screaming Tailgunner by Iron Maiden as loud as I could. (which I guess is probably great contrast to the flight post release)


I really enjoyed the video’s. It does bring back memories. I wonder if that is how an eagle feels. Just soaring around, playing with the wind, no sound, just a quiet peaceful feeling. OK now I have to go back up in a glider again.

Can’t wait to see more videos.


How does the cost compare to a PPL?


No comparison Will,

My yearly cost I will be estimating $1200 (very generous estimate) between club fees and flights, lots of flights as time is no longer a factor when it comes to soaring 8)


From start to solo $1200! Man!

Say you solo in a glider and then later on decide to get your PPL. Does the gliding lessons knock off some of the “work,” and possibly cost of the PPL?


Oh no, if you are talking start to solo, more like $500 max. For 15 flights, I have spent $150 for the 15 flights and I suspect about $200 for tows (not received the bill yet) and $90 for instructor fees @ $30 an hour.

“Indirectly”, yes, as I am re-learning the basic of basics in flying that easily can transfer to power flight. This will reduce the time to understand what your control inputs do to the airplane.


Okay… I’m looking into gliding - I found these:

So, feel free to tell me anything and everything about gliding… :slight_smile:


One step closer to solo but no flight today. Went out to go fly but second tow pilot wasn’t available so instead took the club written test. 86 out of 100 questions right. No study time given, impromptu to the point, I tail gated it taking the test runway side.

I actually did not feel bad on what I missed since they were very glider specific that I never had even talked about such as (going on memory) percentage of rope rating vs glider gross weight, severe rope slack techniques, L/D of the Blanik, MINIMUM pilot weight with and without ballast.

Questions went “back to basics” such as in a skidding turn which rudder do you need to step on based on the yarn pointing (I got this one wrong), on a crosswind take off, which way does the aileron point and rudder point / deflect for a proper takeoff technique in relation to the wind (upwind or downwind) I got this right.

One “trick question”, on final approach to landing who has the right of way while at a cruise altitude. Is it always the landing traffic? This answer would be no if there was a balloon crossing your path of final.

Of course, airspace, ARROW, VFR requirements, spin recovery, stall conditions came up as well as student rights on flying solo based on endorsements.

Instructor seemed pleased as he could see the questions I missed were not really “safety issues” for flight but still need to know for check ride oral.

It was kinda nice taking this test as it did bring back everything to “think about” on the basics of flying.

Couple of things still need in-flight lessons before solo, such as no air brake landing, rope release initiated from the tow plane and I want to get more stick time in just controlling the beast with my right hand only and left hand on the air brake handle so I can get more comfortable in the pattern.

Glider pilot today landed when I was about to leave so I helped him tow the glider to the hangar. Lift was so good he said that he was gaining altitude while practicing stalls and he only came down as it would have been too late for an endurance record. He was up for 3 hours getting up to 5000 feet and managed to get above a scattered
deck of CU’s.

I can’t imagine as after all no gas being used! You can bet I can’t wait!


Glider Lesson - .8 Hour of extasy!

Been 6 weeks since my last flight. Humidity down here hasn’t been fit for man or beast (me!) and while hot today, it wasn’t ridiculously humid. Wow, can’t say it enough, flying in it’s rawest form! More light bulbs came on which I am really excited about.

Today goal was thermalling. We probably could have stayed up longer but the instructor basically was “passenger” and had me call the shots. This of course had me not so quick to leave the friendly confines of the airport. Instructor was absolutely amazing on how quick he noticed thermals that all I felt was a subtle change. It felt like by the time I felt the subtle change instead of “right rudder, right rudder” you hear during power flight, he kept saying turn, turn turn.

Ok, flight details, I was extremely pleased with my tow up though I encountered something not encountered on my prior flights. My control of the plane was so good, that I failed to identify the rope slack. It was straight down rather then the usual sideways letter C I drew with the rope in the past. Instructor stepped on the right rudder and fixed that and I of course asked him was that him and he said yeah, taking up slack. Crap, never saw it. It wasn’t bad he said but something that warranted fixing before it became real bad. That never happened again :slight_smile: as I became much more aware of the rope status! I was concentrating too hard on formation flight! DUH. Released at 2500 and off we went.

Thermalling, found 3 large birds circling so I headed straight for them. TOO DAYEM COOL! For about 2 minutes we were wing tip to wing tip with them, close enough where I could see the feathers separate on their wingtips and we were holding up the rear in the thermal… We got too close, and they closed up and dove for cover. Doing all of this at a cozy speed of 42 knots! Now the light bulb moment. I didn’t realize until today when I turned in a power plane that I held the rudder into the turn with light pressure to keep the turn going. Today, I just couldn’t understand why I could not keep the yarn straight in my turns. Instructor clued me in by saying lead the turn with rudder, bank and then let the rudders go back to neutral and maintain the bank in the thermal. Hot diggigity dawg, coordinated flight in thermals! Quality of my turns went up exponentially.

We never really gained significant altitude but we did hit a 1000 fpm thermal from where I went from 1800 to 2500 what felt like lickity split time! We circled and finally I decided at 1700, time to leave the IP (Initial point or translated in power flight as 45 degree entry into the pattern) and bring it back home. Winds were around 15 knots above the tree line from 120 and we were landing on runway 9. No problems on approach maintained centerline but landing was less then stellar. I turned base at the end of runway 9 and had to dump altitude, so put full spoilers in and a slight slip. Problem was it was too effective which had me coming up shorter then instructor wanted me to. So he said close the spoilers when we were about 6 inches off the runway. I did this but then the nose popped up and I incorrectly re-deployed the spoilers “without thinking”. Lost all lift and kerplunkt it on the ground about 6 inches. Other then my pride, no harm to the glider.

Two minute video is another student taking her second lesson in the glider I just flew along with some video randoms of glider operations. At the end of the video, you will see a smile only a flight generates.

Total flight time was .8 hour. Experiencing this flight PRICELESS literally and figuratively!