What's it take to add a Glider rating to my Pilot Certificate?

Thanks for your inquiry about transitioning to gliders. Let’s address your transition in two sections, time and money.

First let's talk about time. The FAA is more concerned with the number of flights rather than hours when it comes to gliders. Their main concern is the number of landings (since you get 1 shot at each of them). Flying a glider is a lot like flying an airplane in many ways (the aerodynamics are the same), but very different in others (a lot less energy and no room for error). Most transitioning power pilots will solo somewhere around 15-20 flights on average. Instruction is scheduled in 1.5 hour blocks. Depending on the weather conditions, you’ll probably average 2 or 3 flights per lesson. This will go up as you near solo because we will be working on emergency scenarios where the tow is lower and we can get more of them in. Obviously, the more often you fly, the quicker you'll reach your goal.

As for money, LESC is a club, so you first need to join before you can begin instruction. The initiation fee for Active Membership is $250 ($125 for Junior Membership). The club gets its insurance through the Soaring Society of America's group plan. Since this is only available to SSA members, you’ll need to join the SSA separately. LESC Regular Membership dues are $50 monthly which cover the cost of the aircraft (no rental fee). Since we're a club, we don't operate 7 days a week. Currently we are flying on weekends and Wednesday. Instruction fees are $40 for each 1.5 hour block. You will also need to purchase some books and materials which all toll will be less than $100. Tow fees will be the most significant expense involved. Tow fees are based on how high the tow plane goes - more altitude means more money $$.

Our current tow fee structure is located here.

To summarize, most transitioning pilots will spend $1500 - $2500 dollars including books, materials, dues and fees and take anywhere for 1.5 - 3 months (depending on how often they can fly) to solo. You will spend about the same amount on top of that if you wish to add a glider rating to your current pilot rating.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, comments or I can be of further assistance in anyway. I hope to see you at the airport soon.

Thanks again for your interest.

Mike Havener
Chief Flight Instructor, Lake Elsinore Soaring Club