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Glider pilots license

Gliding is a team sport that can be enjoyed by people from the age of 15 and up until oneís health allows. Most glider pilots just fly for fun, for the sake of having a hobby, others do it because they like being one with nature. Some do it on a competitive level. Gliding competitions are basically racing competitions where itís about flying a given task as fast and effectively as possible. Taking the license in Denmark is done in basically three parts:

 

A-Standards:

When taking the glider pilotís license, one starts by flying in a two-seat trainer with an instructor in the back seat. The student is briefed before every flight and debriefed after each flight. The student starts learning the basic things at first, and then the more advanced ones. When the instructor feels that the student is ready to move on, he approves the particular standard in the studentís log book. When the first 11 standards have been passed, the student takes a brief theoretical exam and is required to take a medical exam. Typically, by now the student has flown 80-100 flights and logged about 15 hours, all depending on various things. When all is in order, the big day arrives; the first solo flight. It is a big day for every pilot, no matter what the pilot flies. Being alone in the sky and having so much freedom is a feeling that simply cannot be replaced by any other.

 

B-Standards:

After that the student has flown solo, he/she continues the course by flying on both one- and two-seater aircraft. Most of the things that the student has learned are repeated in a single-seat aircraft and the student now also learns more advanced flying in the trainer. After passing the first 7 B-Standards, the student prepares for the big exam. By now the student has passed the theory and is ready for the flying/ practical S-exam. When passed, the student will become a licensed pilot. By now the student has typically flown 2-3seasons, depending on oneís ability to learn and the time one invests in the sport. The theory is made up of these subjects:

  • Human factors and limitations for pilots
  • Aerodynamics
  • Meteorology
  • Instruments & equipment
  • Rules and regulations
  • Flying gliders

 

Personal achievements:

Solo after 50 flights / 7 flying hours.

Glider pilotís license in 1 year.

Winch launch approved.

Tow plane launch approved.

Passenger flying approved.

International VHF license.

Simple aerobatics approved.

Nr.11 at the Danish Junior Championships (under 26), and number 1 on one of the competition days. Registered as a Ďtalentí at the Danish gliding union. (There are currently 20 people registered as talents in whole Denmark).

As Ďtalent,í one gets the privilege of practising with the national team. Another good thing is that you can fly any of the Danish Gliding Unionís aircraft for free or very cheap, and can participate in competitions for free and getting highest priority in courses etc.

 

FAQís about Gliding:

Q: How does a glider get in the air, considering that it doesnít have an engine?

A: There are two ways of getting the gliders in the air, depending on which club you fly in. The first method is to winch launch the glider by a special winch. The winch has a cable, which is typically about 1km long. The aircraft is attached to the end of the cable and when all is set, the winch starts pulling and winding the cable onto the drum. This accelerates the aircraft and the pilot controls the angle of climb. Winch launching is relatively cheap and the glider is launched to an altitude of about 300-400m. The other way to get a glider in the air is by towing the glider behind a light aircraft. This way you can tow the glider to the exact position and altitude that you want to. However, as you can imagine, this way is more costly, compared to winch launching.

 

Q: How does a glider stay in the air, considering that it doesnít have an engine?

A: After being launched, the pilot looks for thermals (see next question). When a thermal is found, the pilot circles in it, holding the aircraft in the rising air. This way, the glider will climb with the rising air, normally all the way up to the cloud base.

 

Q: What is a thermal?

A: A Thermal is basically a mass of warm air rising. As you know, warm air is lighter than cold air, and therefore rises. When the sun shines on the ground, the earth gets warm. When it reaches a certain temperature, the earth releases Ďbubblesí of warm moist air, that rise and turn to clouds when reaching a certain height / temperature.

 

Q: How does the pilot find these thermals?

A: Well, thermals are air, and therefore invisible. The pilot normally looks at the clouds to find thermals. Cumulus clouds are created because of the thermals. So if the pilot flies under such a cloud, he knows that thereís a good chance for flying into itís thermal. Other ways of finding them, is by looking at birds. Soaring birds such as seagulls and birds of prey sometimes fly in circles and climb to high altitudes without ever flapping their wings. If a glider pilot sees one of these birds circling, then this is normally a good indication of a thermal. Birds instinctively know how to find and use thermals, and they are usually a very good way for pilots to spot thermals.

 

 

Pictures of gliders

 

Information about the LS4 glider