Most airports or glider bases have some type of pilot training available, either through FAA-approved pilot schools or individual FAA-certificated flight instructors. FAA-approved glider schools usually provide a wide variety of training aids, special facilities, and greater flexibility in scheduling. A number of colleges and universities also provide glider pilot training as a part of their overall pilot training curricula. However, most glider training is conducted by individual flight instructors through a membership in a glider club. Also, there are several commercial glider companies located around the United States offering flight training, sightseeing glider rides, and glider towing services.
Choosing the right facility or instructor for your glider training should be both exciting and educational. Many factors need to be considered when choosing the right school, such as location, type of certification, part- or full-time training, and cost. The quality of training received should be the most important factor. Before interviewing schools, potential student pilots should be educated on the types of training curriculums that are available. Pilot training is conducted in accordance with one of two regulatory categories: Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 141 or 14 CFR part 61. Students can receive exceptional flight training under either part 141 or 61 training programs, as both have the same teaching and testing requirements. What differs is the way you are taught in order to meet those same requirements.
14 CFR Part 141 Pilot Schools
Pilot schools that are certificated under 14 CFR part 141 provide a more structured training program with a standardized FAA-approved training syllabus. This ensures that all necessary skills are taught in a specific order through approved lesson plans. Under part 141, students are also required to complete a specific number of hours of formal ground instruction either in a classroom or one on one with an FAA-certificated flight instructor. Students are also required to pass the FAA knowledge and practical tests. In order to obtain approval and maintain their part 141 certification, pilot schools must adhere to several FAA regulations.
Because part 141 pilot schools must adhere to the approved training regiment, their students are allowed to complete the pilot certificate or rating in fewer flight training hours than required by part 61. However, most students generally exceed the reduced part 141 flight training hour requirements in order to meet the proficiency standards to pass the practical test.
14 CFR Part 61 Instruction
Pilot training conducted under 14 CFR part 61 offers a somewhat more flexible and less structured training program than that conducted under part 141. A part 61 training syllabus is not subject to FAA approval; therefore, flight instructors have the flexibility to rearrange lesson plans to suit the individual needs of their students. However, it is important to understand that flight instructors must adhere to the requirements of part 61 and train their students to the standards of part 61.
Training under part 61 does not require the student to complete a formal ground school. Instead, students have the following three options: (1) attend a ground school course, (2) complete a home-study program, or (3) hire a certificated flight or ground instructor to teach and review any materials that they choose. Regardless of which option a student chooses to take, all students are required to pass the FAA knowledge and practical tests for the pilot certificate or rating for which they are applying. The requirements for pilot training under part 61 are less structured than those under part 141, and part 61 may require more flight training hours to obtain a pilot certificate or rating than part 141.
Most glider training programs can be found on the SSA website at www.ssa.org. Once you choose a general location, make a checklist of things to look for in a training organization. By talking to pilots, visiting the facility, and reading articles in pilot magazines, a checklist can be made and used to evaluate your options. Your choice might depend on whether you are planning to obtain a sport or private pilot certificate or pursuing a higher pilot certificate or a flight instructor certificate toward becoming a professional glider pilot. The quality of training is very important and should be the first priority when choosing a course of training. Prior to making a final decision, visit the facility being considered and talk with management, instructors, and both current and former students. Evaluate all training requirements using a checklist, and then take some time to think things over before making a decision.
After deciding where to learn to fly and making the necessary arrangements, training can begin. An important fact: ground and flight training should be obtained as regularly and frequently as possible. This assures maximum retention of instruction and the achievement of proficiency for which every pilot should strive.