The Glider Flying Handbook

Welcome to the world of soaring. The Glider Flying Handbook is designed to help you achieve your goals in aviation and to provide you with the knowledge and practical information needed to attain private, commercial, and flight instructor category ratings in gliders. GLIDERS — THE EARLY YEARS The fantasy of flight led people to dream up intricate designs in an attempt to imitate the flight of birds. Leonardo da Vinci sketched a vision of flying machines in his 15th century manuscripts. His work consisted of a number of wing designs including a human-powered ornithopter, derived from the Greek word for bird. Centuries later, when others began to experiment with his designs, it became apparent that the human body could not sustain flight by flapping wings like birds. GLIDER OR SAILPLANE?

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) defines a glider as a heavier-than-air aircraft that is supported in flight by the dynamic reaction of the air against its lifting surfaces, and whose free flight does not depend on an engine. The term glider is used to designate the rating that can be placed on a pilot certificate once a person successfully completes required glider knowledge and practical tests. Another widely accepted term used in the industry is sailplane. Soaring refers to the sport of flying sailplanes, which usually includes traveling long distances and remaining aloft for extended periods of time. Gliders were designed and built to provide short flights off a hill down to a landing area. Since their wings provided relatively low lift and high drag, these simple gliders were generally unsuitable for sustained flight using atmospheric lifting forces.

The most well known example of a glider is the space shuttle, which literally glides back to earth. The space shuttle, like gliders, cannot sustain flight for long periods of time. Early gliders were easy and inexpensive to build, and they played an important role in flight training. Self-launch gliders are equipped with engines, but with the engine shut down, they display the same flight characteristics as non-powered gliders. The engine allows them to be launched under their own power. Once aloft, pilots of self-launch gliders can shut down the engine and fly with the power off. The additional training and procedures required to earn a self-launch endorsement are covered later in this handbook.