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Online soaring ground school takes offOnline soaring ground school takes off

Glider pilots need to thoroughly understand the weather.

Glider pilots rejoice: Now you, too, have an online training option.

Gliderbooks Academy-Online Soaring School has launched a series of courses designed to give prospective glider pilots the aeronautical knowledge they need to take the knowledge test.

The courses are based on Russell Holtz’s books, Flight Training Manual for Gliders and Glider Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge. Holtz, a CFI-G based in San Bruno, California, said he is expanding the material in the books for the online courses, adding animation, color slides, and videos to help students understand the subject matter.

“One of my big pet peeves amongst a lot of instruction is the study-to-pass-the-test mentality,” Holtz said. Soaring is so very weather-dependent, he said, that if pilots don’t understand the conditions they’re flying in, they can set themselves up for trouble. “The kind of conditions a power pilot might say ‘I’m not going to fly’ typically give us the best lift, so you just can’t say, ‘There will be turbulence today, I’m not going to fly.’ You will never soar if you don’t go in turbulence.” Soaring pilots need to understand weather concepts in much greater detail, he said.

Six courses are available now, including a free unit that is an introduction to soaring. More units are set to come online in the next two to three weeks, with 16 anticipated in total. Single courses range in price from $25 to $35.

The weather course—not yet available—will be one of the best weather presentations out there, Holtz said. “[Students] will really understand what causes the weather, how to predict it, and how to understand the variability in it, and I’m excited about getting this one out.”

Students who score 80 percent or higher on the final test for each course will be signed off to take the knowledge test, Holtz said. He has 4,000 hours dual and has instructed at Hollister Soaring Center in Hollister, California; Southern California Soaring Academy in Llano; and SoaringNV in Minden, Nevada.

Jill W. Tallman

Jill W. Tallman

AOPA Technical Editor
AOPA Technical Editor Jill W. Tallman is an instrument-rated private pilot who owns a Piper Cherokee 140.
Topics: Glider, Advocacy, Flight School

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