Acquiring gliding silver badges

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Acquiring gliding silver badges

Postby machineman9 » Thu Mar 06, 2014 7:17 pm

Hello everyone, long time no speak!

I have been held captive by university work for quite a while so I've not had much time for forums nor flying. I am trying to apply for some sponsorship, but one of the criteria is that you are competing at a regional level in a sport - I figured it would be fantastic to get involved with gliding competitions. The only problem is that my feet are on the ground and I would require a silver FAI badge to apply for a competition licence.


I am in the process of applying to some aerospace companies for internships, so I should hopefully be able to fund this venture. I am just not sure on the timeframe I should expect to reach this gliding standard. So I was wondering if anyone had any insight into gaining these badges and how much time you would suggest it takes to accomplish this. I am assuming good flying competency, good weather, good availability for training and flying, etc. I'd like to be spending 2-4 days a month at the airfield to get the initial training out of the way. I also approached an Air Cadet gliding squadron last summer and they seemed quite interested in hiring new pilots to train as instructors, but I just needed a qualification (solo or hopefully PPL) tp join up, so I could acquire extra stick time this way.


So any information would be appreciated. I know it must vary quite a lot, but estimates are fine. Just so long as it fits in my rough timeframe, I think that should be good enough to get me going.

Cheers!
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Re: Acquiring gliding silver badges

Postby PhantomTweak » Thu Mar 06, 2014 11:50 pm

Soaring is absolutely wonderful experience! It's about as low&slow as it gets in an enclosed cockpit! No engine sounds, just the whoooosh! of the air moving over the aircraft...and the view is incredible. I noticed, unfotunately, I tend to rely more on "seat-of-the-pants" flying in a glider. It let me keep my head out of the cockpit a lot more than a powered craft does. I know it's a bad thing, since the instruments are a lot more accurate then my tush, buuuut...it sems to me that I feel the aircraft more as a living thing around me than I do with powered craft. Once you gain experience, you can feel the glider reacting to the lifts and drops of the air, hear the airspeed in the wind-noise...feel a wing lift with a thermal ...The local airborne wildlife, such as hawks and so on, are a lot more willing to come out and soar with something not roaring and plowing at them at twice their flight speed, too!

As to learning, it took me two weeks to get my glider cert, but that was working at the gliderport for 5 hours, and flying for 2, 6 days a week. That was all the cild labor laws of the time would permit, and since I was just 14, wellll....got my cert for free at least! Helped to have a darn good and very experienced IP at the time too, and one that wasn't afraid to reach a yardstick over from the backseat and belt me over the skull when I messed up real good. I sincerely doubt you will ever have an instructor like that, but it sure helped ME learn fast. :lol:

Ok, ok I'm done meandering down memory airways :D I don't know if it helped any...

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Re: Acquiring gliding silver badges

Postby machineman9 » Fri Mar 07, 2014 6:48 pm

It sounds like a fantastic thing. I have only been up a few times in gliders, all of which were powered so didn't have quite the same buzz (or rather, lack of) compared to a similar vehicle without an engine. I'm not quite sure yet if it's un-nerving not having an engine or a relief that you can't have an engine failure, depending on the aircraft type of course.

I'm hoping to start training from September/October onwards. Obviously not as ideal as summer flying, but I like a challenge. Hopefully I can get the messy flying out of the way during the winter and then blast the soaring over the summer with the better conditions.

Is it relatively hard or easy to get badges out the way? I imagine diamond might be a bit of a challenge in the UK, but the rest seems fairly accessible to all pilots.
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Re: Acquiring gliding silver badges

Postby expat » Fri Mar 14, 2014 1:42 am

machineman9 wrote:It sounds like a fantastic thing. I have only been up a few times in gliders, all of which were powered so didn't have quite the same buzz (or rather, lack of) compared to a similar vehicle without an engine. I'm not quite sure yet if it's un-nerving not having an engine or a relief that you can't have an engine failure, depending on the aircraft type of course.

I'm hoping to start training from September/October onwards. Obviously not as ideal as summer flying, but I like a challenge. Hopefully I can get the messy flying out of the way during the winter and then blast the soaring over the summer with the better conditions.

Is it relatively hard or easy to get badges out the way? I imagine diamond might be a bit of a challenge in the UK, but the rest seems fairly accessible to all pilots.



I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it is going to take you a couple of years or maybe more to get to Silver C.

Before Silver C, you have to:
Learn to fly of course :lol:
Bronze
Cross country endorsement
Silver

Naturally, CFI recommendations have to go with all these points. Assuming you get your wings:

Bronze
A minimum of 50 solo flights, or 20 solo flights and 10 hours.
Two soaring flights of 30 minutes each from a winch launch, or 60 minutes each from aerotow.
Flying test with full Cat
Introduction to field landings.
Bronze written paper, with multiple choice questions on navigation, principles of flight, meteorology, radio and airmanship.
All the above requirements must be completed within 12 months. To log your soaring flights, your flight must be witnessed by an Official Observer or instructor.


Cross-country endorsement

The requirements are:
One one-hour soaring flight
One two-hour soaring flight
Navigation exercise
Field selection exercise and field landing exercise (you will require use of a motor glider for this part)
All the requirements must be completed within 12 months of the second two-hour soaring flight.
You will need the cross-country endorsement before you will be allowed to fly solo cross-country
flights.


The requirements to gain the Silver C are:
A five-hour soaring flight
A 1000m height gain
A 50km distance flight.

Now add in the UK weather, personal commitments, aircraft availability as others will also be going for it and you will not be a Silver pilot any time soon I am sorry to say.

Due to weather and commitments alone, it took me two summers to get my bronze due to the 12 month rule. I don't mean to put a downer on this, but no point is blowing smoke up your rectal cavity and saying you will get it all done in a season.

Matt


There is another way to get your wings. believe it or not, there is no legal requirement to have any form of training to fly a glider. There is no licence require. The BGA is a regulatory body that operates in an advisory manner with no legal remit (or was the last time I checked). Legally you can go and buy yourself a glider and if you can find anyone mad enough to launch you, you can fly of into the wild blue yonder.................But you have to be madder than the mad person launching you though....... :lol: :lol:
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Re: Acquiring gliding silver badges

Postby Hagar » Fri Mar 14, 2014 4:09 am

Like Matt I don't wish to be a wet blanket but here's a few things to consider. One thing you need before taking up gliding in this country - that's plenty of time. Most UK gliding clubs are run by volunteers, including the instructors & tug pilots. If, like most people, you need to use a club glider to train on don't expect to turn up at a specific time, have your lesson & go home. It doesn't work like that.

As a club member you will be expected to spend the best part of a day at the airfield & get involved with the everyday running of the operation. This includes helping assemble the gliders, towing them from the hangars out onto the airfield, helping with the launches, retrieving them when they land, driving winches etc. etc. Of course, whether training can take place is dependent on the temperamental weather conditions in this part of the world. I don't imagine there's been much gliding going on for the last few months.

I went on my first gliding course with the Air Training Corps in 1959 when things very different to what they are now. A week's course in the highly organised RAF glider training schools would have taken a year in the average civil gliding club, even if were accepting new members. I don't know what it's like now but in my my day there was a long waiting list at my local club. http://www.southdowngliding.co.uk/
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Re: Acquiring gliding silver badges

Postby machineman9 » Fri Mar 14, 2014 6:37 am

Well thank you for the responses. I never knew you just go out and glide though!

I have spoken to my most local gliding school and I should be able to pop along for a visit next weekend. They run week long courses just to hammer in the essentials (and, rarely, let people fly solo). I think they operate a list mechanism for flying - You put your name down, wait to fly, fly, put your name down again and wait for it to come around. It all seems fair enough.

Of course, winter will be rubbish for flying. They are winch-only, so flights of under 10 minutes seem likely. Hopefully over autumn/winter I can work towards the 50 solos element and do the paperwork and then do the soaring when the season starts up again. There is another gliding centre closer to home (living in multiple places is great for this stuff!) who are tow-only, and they seem to get some fantastic flights in over the winter, so the opportunity for variety is certainly there.

So with that logic, I'm hoping to fit in Bronze by May-July 2015 and then work for Bronze-C for the rest of the season. Luck and skill depending, of course. Would that sound reasonable?
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Re: Acquiring gliding silver badges

Postby Staiduk » Sun Apr 27, 2014 1:49 am

Wow; this is going to sound so lame but I don't remember the exact requirements when I earned my Silver badge 30 years ago. I certainly remember when I earned my 'Lennies'; THAT is a flight I'll never forget - half exhilarating; half utterly terrifying.
I believe the requirements for the Silver badge were at the time "+2000ft. height gain and 2hs. soaring time" but since my first endurance flight (in an S-128) was more than three times that length and took me to almost 9000ft. (this was Southern Ontario); the actual minimum requirements are a little vague. Blame it on Alzheimer's; I'd have to look it up in my old logbooks.

Whatever - while the Silver badge is a great achievement for a rookie; it is one small step along the way to Soaring skill. I learned to fly in gliders; I earned my power rating in order to fly tow. I have great respect for unpowered flight; it's how I learned. But recognize that while badges are nice; they are only indications of skill; and skill is the only real benchmark for pilots. :)
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