soaring USA

FAA minimum requirements

Glider licenses are issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and in that regard is similar to that issued to power pilots or balloon pilots. The FAA maintains a list of frequently asked questions for new pilots and requirements for pilot licensing are included in Part 61 of the Federal Aviation Regulations. The basic requirements are as follows:


Students Pilots
Student pilots may solo at a minimum age of 14 with a student certificate endorsed for solo flight at the discretion of a FAA-Certified Flight Instructor for Gliders (CFIG). Generally, 30 to 40 flights with a CFIG are required to solo. This is roughly equivalent to 10-12 hours of flight time and is dependent upon the progress of the student.

Private Pilot-Glider

After solo, student pilots may qualify as a Private Pilot-Glider provided they:

Are at least 16 years of age; and
Have logged at least 10 hours of flight time in a glider and that flight time must include at least 20 total glider flights, and
Have 2 hours of solo flight time in a glider, and
Have passed the FAA written examination; and
Have passed the flight exam with a FAA Examiner.

Commercial Pilots-Glider

Commercial Pilots-Glider must be at least 18-years of age, pass a written FAA examination, hold a Private Pilot license with 25 hours of flight time in gliders and 100 glider flights as pilot-in-command, or a total of 200 hours of flight time in heavier-than-air aircraft including 20 glider flights as pilot-in-command, 3 hours or ten flights training in a glider, and five solo flights in a glider and pass a flight test.

Certified Flight Instructors-Glider

Certified Flight Instructors-Glider must hold a commercial rating, pass a written and flight test and have an endorsement from a qualified instructor of aeronautical knowledge and flight of proficiency.

Additional Pilot Rating

Holders of a valid FAA Power plane license with 40 hours as pilot-in-command need a minimum of 10 solo flights to qualify to take the glider flight test. No written exam is required to add a glider rating to a power license. In all cases, refer to the Federal Aviation Regulations for details on pilot licensing.

Foreign Glider Pilot Licensing in US

Non-US glider pilots may still receive reciprocal privileges in the United States. However, the necessary steps for receiving these documents have changed as a result of the attacks of September 11th. New security protocols are in place and the processing system has been changed to include direct verification of home country privileges as well as submitting the name of the pilot to law enforcement for verification of security status.

Please note: The general process may take up to 60 days, or even longer. However, closely following the steps indicated below will help reduce the length of time necessary to complete the process.

Go to the Federal Aviations Administrationís web site.

When there, scroll down the page to the link that says 'Verification of Authenticity of Foreign License, Rating, and Medical Certification.'

There you will find complete instructions as well as links to the forms that must be completed and faxed to the Airman Registry Office in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Follow this link, FSDO, to another Federal Aviation Administration web site that lists all the available Flight Standards District Offices (FSDO). You will need to pick an office in which to appear in person for verification of your identification and foreign airmen documentation. The FSDO that you pick will be requested on the form that you submit to the FAA in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

It will be most helpful and less time consuming if you provide the FAA with complete information on how to contact the organization or government entity that issued your glider license.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact the Soaring Society of America at any time. You may send usa fax, e-mail or call by phone.