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Skyline Soaring Club Training Syllabus

The Complete Skyline Soaring Syllabus is also available in:

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Skyline Soaring Club, LLC.

Skyline Soaring Club Training Syllabus


The use of this training syllabus is intended for the instructors, students and members of Skyline Soaring Club, Inc; located in Front Royal Virginia. Other commercial or non-profit organizations and instructors may also use this material - see sections on "License and Restrictions" and "Using the Training Syllabus on Paper" under the heading "Non-Skyline Instructor Use"

Flight Instructors, web masters and authors outside of Skyline Soaring Club are welcome to use any or all of Skyline Soaring Club's training materials contained in this document, as they see fit, free of charge from Skyline Soaring Club, provided the conditions are met under the Creative Commons License version 3.0. Full details about this license can be found at the following URL: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us/

Chief Flight Instructor: Piet Barber
Revised: 5 December 2017

The contents of this syllabus is the result of collaborative efforts of the Certified Flight Instructors for Skyline Soaring Club, Inc; operating out of Front Royal, VA. Feedback or corrections for the Skyline Soaring Training Syllabus can be sent to the Chief Flight Instructor, Piet Barber. pbarber@skylinesoaring.org. Feedback is welcome, especially for suggestions on external links.

The training syllabus is a living document. Clubs that use the syllabus are strongly encouraged to subscribe to the Skyline Syllabus Mailing List.  Any updates to the contents of the syllabus are automatically mailed as the changes are made.  To subscribe, visit the website http://skylinesoaring.org/mailman/listinfo/syllabus .  Nobody is permitted to send mail to that mailing list except for the site administrator, and only when updates are made to the training syllabus.  

License and RestrictionsCreative Commons Logo

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  • Permissions beyond the scope of this public license are available at skylinesoaring.org

Under the following conditions:

With the understanding that:

  • Waiver - Any of the above conditions can be waived if you get permission from the copyright holder.

Other Rights - In no way are any of the following rights affected by the license:

  • Your fair dealing or fair use rights;
  • Apart from the remix rights granted under this license, the author's moral rights;
  • Rights other persons may have either in the work itself or in how the work is used, such as publicity or privacy rights.

Notice - For any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the license terms of this work. The best way to do this is with a link to http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us/

Syllabus Usage (General)

Transition Pilots

Pilots already possessing an FAA Rating, but for a different category, (such as Airplane, Single Engine Land, Rotorcraft, Lighter-Than-Air, etc.), are NOT considered by the FAA as a "student pilot." This pilot is a rated pilot seeking to add a new category rating. However, as far as Skyline Soaring Club's program is concerned, the flight instructors will regard this candidate identically to an unrated student pilot. The transition pilot will be put through the same program that an ab-initio pilot would receive. The transition pilot will probably go through the training program much more quickly, but the Skyline Instructors must verify that the candidate meets or exceeds all of the requirements that a first-solo §61.87 student would before his first solo (including the pre-solo written test). Upon completion of the training program, the transition pilot will receive a §61.31 (c)(3) endorsement, and not a §61.87 endorsement, like a student pilot would.

New Pilots (Starting from Scratch)

The Training Syllabus covers all of the required areas that are specified in 14 CFR §61.87. Each lesson plan is a sample of what is to come. In each lesson plan is a section of required reading. It is understood that the student will have read each of the items in the required reading section before coming to fly with the instructor. Failure to do reading assignments ahead of time is a consistent and reliable indicator of delayed progress. Delayed progress adds unnecessary personal expense to complete the training program.

Syllabus Usage (Skyline Instructors)

Using the On-line Student Progress Report

Skyline Soaring Club stores all of the records about a student's flight training record electronically. There is no need to print the forms at the end of this document, except for reference. After the flight instruction session, the instructor will automatically be notified by e-mail of any recent flights with his students. The instructor will score the flights as appropriate, scoring each section with a score 1 through 3. A score of "1" indicates that the content was introduced. A score of "2" indicates that the student performed the maneuver or procedure. A score of "3" indicates that the candidate has performed the maneuver or procedure to the solo standards stated in the appropriate lesson plan. Scores of "4" are reserved for post-solo students directly training for their Private Pilot Practical Test.

Different scores

Flights where there is significant need to address problem areas on the next flight are marked with a red exclamation point. This is not meant as a failure, but rather as an urgent indicator to the next instructor that this is an area that needs focus and attention. Once the instructor completes his report, he will be given an opportunity to write an optional essay describing details of the lesson session.

The completed lesson report is mailed to the Skyline Soaring Club instructors, as well as the student for future review and planning. The student may view his progress page at any time, and get a clear indication of what lesson segments are still required before solo flight is considered.

Syllabus Use (Non-Skyline Instructors)

Using the Training Syllabus on Paper

For non-Skyline instructors, tracking a student's progress can be done by the two forms at the end of this document.

Use the Training Syllabus Tracking Sheet to keep track of which instructors have signed off a particular section as demonstrated at solo quality. When the student has completed all areas listed as required for solo flight, the instructor and student will sign the end of the document, indicating that all instruction has been given to the satisfaction of the student.

Use the Flight Progress Tracking Sheet to track individual flights. Multiple copies of these two pages will be necessary to fully document the flight record of the student. At the right-most column of this sheet, indicate the maximum score achieved for each lesson segment. In the following example, Frank Schüler has had a total of 11 flights with 6 different instructors (which can often happen in a club environment). Each instructor gave a score of 1, 2, or 3 depending on the student's progress.

Demonstration of filling out the form

Student solo is not permitted until a score of "3" has been documented and achieved for all sections listed as required for solo flight. Refer to the Training Syllabus Tracking Sheet for a list of all sections required for student solo. Once all of the appropriate sections have been demonstrated at the solo proficiency level or higher, both the student and instructor will sign the affirmation statement. This statement can be found at the end of the Training Syllabus Tracking Sheet. This indicates that both the instructor and student have successfully accomplished the full training program, and that it has been completed to their satisfaction. The instructor will keep the original signed document, and prepare a copy for the student to keep for his or her own record keeping.

Sample QR Code

Using QR Codes

Each section in the printed version of the training syllabus contains a QRcode. The QR code is located in the upper right hand corner of each section of the syllabus (also shown here). These QR codes are included as a convenience for smart-phone equipped instructors or students who are using a printed copy of the syllabus, and are not near an Internet connected computer.  While using a smart phone with a QR code reader, the savvy instructor or student can pull up the online copy of that particular page of the syllabus.  Use this to follow any hyperlinks or videos that the lesson plan may include.    

Materials List

Before or immediately after your first lesson

Glider Pilot Logbook

Soaring Society of America
 SSA Logbook  Before or immediately after the first lesson, the student must have a Pilot Logbook. The Glider Pilot logbook is generally given to the student as a part of the FAST package. The logbook can also be purchased from the club, or purchased online from the Soaring Society of America for a modest price.   Your instructor is required to legibly record any flight and ground instruction in your log book, so it is required to be with you each time you have a lesson at the club. 

Glider Flying Handbook


FAA Glider Flying Handbook cover

This book is published by the Federal Aviation Administration. It is considered public domain. In electronic form, this book is available for free. The FAA publishes the entire book as a low resolution PDF, or as higher resolution versions by each chapter.  Get the latest electronic version of the GFH by going to 

https://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/handbooks_manuals/aircraft/glider_handbook/ .

Many of the lesson plans included in this syllabus reference certain pages in this book. You can purchase a copy of this book from the Soaring Society of America for $29.00. 

Pilots Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge


Pilot Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge cover This book is published by the Federal Aviation Administration. It is considered public domain. In electronic form, this book is available for free.  This book focuses on flying airplanes. This book is included as a resource for soaring mainly because some key subjects are not adequately covered in the Glider Flying Handbook. It is not recommended that you purchase this book. Lesson plans in this training syllabus that include topics only covered in the Pilot Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge link directly to the appropriate chapter.  You are not expected to purchase this book, but you may find it a handy reference for many topics in aviation.

Everybody's First Gliding Book

Bob Wander

This book serves as an exciting introduction to soaring.  It prepares you for the concepts of how to be a better student, and references many resources outside of the Materials List included in this syllabus.  It is available for purchase at the Soaring Society of America, it is a part of the FAST package from the SSA , and also available for purchase from our club.  

Pre-Solo Materials

Student Pilot License: As you near your first solo, you will need a student pilot's certificate.  If you are already a rated pilot seeking an additional category glider rating, your pilot's license will suffice. Since 1 April 2016, all student pilots must go through a TSA background check.  Begin the process for getting a student pilot certificate by signing up with the FAA's Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA) at https://iacra.faa.gov/IACRA/Default.aspx .    

FAR/AIM As you progress through the training program, it is highly recommended that you own a copy of the FAR/AIM.  All of the regulations are online and linked throughout this syllabus, but you should still have the book for ready reference and reading.

  • The latest version of the Aeronautical Information Manual is available at: https://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/publications/#manuals 
  • The FAA Regulations related to obtaining and keeping a pilot certificate are contained in part 61
  • The latest versions of the Federal Regulations related to flight rules are contained in part 91.  

Local Sectional Chart You must be familiar with the airspace around our airport. There are some very complicated and dangerous airspaces near to our field, and owning a sectional is an important step toward understanding the airspace and air traffic in our area.  You may use on-line sectional tools such as skyvector.com, but you may not use those charts for in-flight navigation.  There are two sectional charts for our area.  The Washington Sectional covers the airspace to the east and south of our base of operations.  The Cincinnatti chart covers the areas to the west.  These charts can be purchased at our FBO, or on-line. The FAA provides an excellent resource on how to read aeronautical charts in the 12th edition of the Chart Users Guide

FAA Knowledge Exam Materials

If this is your first pilot rating, or if this is your first pilot rating at the Private Pilot level, you will need to complete a knowledge test, administered by the FAA. If you already have a Private Pilot rating for any powered aircraft, you are not required to pass the FAA knowledge exam for gliders.  Please see the FAA's general information about the knowledge tests (https://www.faa.gov/pilots/testing/).

It is strongly recommended that pilots who are nearing their first solo should have their FAA knowledge test taken and passed before or immediately following their first solo. Any delays in taking the knowledge test can severly impact the student's progress toward a rating. 

There are two paths to passing the knowledge exam. The most effective technique is to enroll in a training course that focuses on the private pilot knowledge exam for gliders.  If no such training course exists in your area, you may do a home-study course.  If you are going through with the home-study course, please follow these recommended actions.

Once you have studied the material and are comfortable with the contents, have a Skyline Soaring Club instructor endorse you to take the written test. Find an FAA-approved Testing center with this FAA document: https://www.faa.gov/training_testing/testing/media/test_centers.pdf . Most testing centers usually charge around $150 to take the written test. 

FAA Practical Test Preparation

The practical test is the culmination of all that you have learned during the training process -- both they activity of flying along with the knowledge required by the FAA to be a safe airman. One way to make sure that all topics are covered during the study process is to use a test prep book specifically tailored toward the glider pilot practical test.  Bob Wander's 'Made Easy' books cover this very well.  There are separate books preparing the Private Pilot candidate and Commercial Pilot candidates. 


LessonPhase  FAR RequirementPTS AreaInstructor Sign-Off and Date
1  Before We Fly       
1a  Preflight Planning / Overview  61.87(i)(1)  I   
1b  Aeromedical Factors Discussion    I(E)   
1c  Use of Controls       
1d  Cockpit Familiarization       
1e  Positive Control Check  61.87(i)(1)  II(C)   
1f  Release Mechanisms  61.87(i)(1)  II(C)   
1g  Handling - Hangar to Flightline  61.87(i)(2)  II(B)   
1h  Handling - Flightline to Hangar  61.87(i)(2)  II(B)   
2  First Flights       
2a  Pre Takeoff Checklist  61.87(i)(1)  IV(A)   
2b  Attitude Flying / Scanning  61.87(i)(6)     
2c  Glider Daily Inspection  61.87(i)(1)  I, II(C)   
2d  Airport Procedures  61.87(i)(5)  III(A,B,C)   
2e  Cockpit Management    II(D)   
2f  Aerotow Release  61.87(i)(11)  IV(F)   
2g  Visual Signals  61.87(i)(11)  II(E)   
2h  Normal Takeoff  61.87(i)(3)  IV(B)   
2i  Normal Aerotow  61.87(i)(12)  IV(C)   
2j  Straight Glide  61.87(i)(4)  VII(A)   
2k  Shallow, Medium, Steep Turns  61.87(i)(4)  VII(C)   
2l  Normal Landing  61.87(i)(16)  IV(Q)   
3  Core Flights       
3a  Hi-Low Tow Transition  61.87(i)(12)  IV(C)   
3b  Before-landing Checklist  61.87(i)(16)  IV(Q)(8)   
3c  Traffic Pattern  61.87(i)(10,16)  IV(Q)   
3d  Minimum Controllable Airspeed  61.87(i)(8)  V(A), IX(A)   
3e  Turns to Heading    VII(B)   
3f  Forward Stall, with and without airbrakes  61.87(i)(14)  IX(B)   
3g  Turning Stall, with and without airbrakes  61.87(i)(14)  IX(B)   
3h  Spirals, Descents  61.87(i)(15)     
4  Advanced Skills       
4a  Collision, Windshear & Wake Turbulence Avoidance  61.87(i)(6)  IV(G)   
4b  Radio Procedures    III(A)   
4c  Minimum Sink  61.87(i)(8)  V(A)   
4d  Slips: Forward, Side, Turning  61.87(i)(7)  IV(R)   
4e  Best L/D; Speed-to-fly  61.87(i)(8)  V(B)   
4f  Boxing the Wake  61.87(i)(12)  IV(E)   
4g  Crosswind Takeoff  61.87(i)(3)  IV(B)   
4h  Crosswind Landing  61.87(i)(16)  IV(Q)   
4i  Unassisted Takeoff       
4j  Covered Instrument Landings  61.87(i)(9)  X(A)   
4k  Precision Landings and Stops  61.87(i)(16)  X(A)   
4l  Slips to Landing  61.87(i)(17)  IV(R)   
5  Soaring Techniques       
5a  Thermal  61.87(i)(18)  VI(A)   
5b  Ridge    VI(B)   
5c  Wave    VI(C)   
6  Unusual Attitudes and Emergencies       
6a  Slack Line  61.87(i)(9),(19)  IV(D)   
6b  Aerotow Emergency Procedures  61.87(i)(9),(19)  IV(G)   
6c  V-Speeds  61.87(i)(8)  V   
6d  Rope Breaks  61.87(i)(9),(19)  IV(G)   
6e  Pilot-Induced Oscillations       
7  Finishing Touches       
7a  Downwind Landing  61.87(i)(16)  IV(S)   
7b  Taxiing and Clearing Runway  61.87(i)(2)  XI   
7c  Assembly  61.87(i)(13)  II(A)   
7d  Postflight Inspection    XI(A)   
7e  Disassembly  61.87(i)(13)     
7f  Pre-Solo Written Test  61.87(b)     
7g  Special Awareness Training  91.161  91.161   
7h  Checkride Rating Endorsement    PTS p5   
8  Solo and Badges       
8a  First Solo and the A Badge       
8b  The B Badge       
8c  The C Badge       
8d  The Bronze Badge       
9  Continuing Training       
9a  Spring Field Check       
9b  Flight Review       
Student Name:
Instructor's Initials       Max
Date of Flight        
Number of Flights        
1aPreflight Planning        
1bAeromedical Factors        
1cUse of Controls        
1dCockpit Familiarization        
1ePositive Control Chk        
1fRelease Mechanisms        
1gHandling (to Flightline)        
1hHandling (to Hangar)        
2aPre Takeoff Checklist        
2bScanning, Attitude Flying        
2cPreflight Inspection        
2dAirport Procedures        
2eCockpit Management        
2fAerotow Release        
2gVisual Signals        
2hNormal Takeoff        
2iNormal Aerotow        
2jStraight Glide        
2kShallow, Medium, Steep Turns        
2lNormal Landing        
3aHi-Low Tow Transition        
3bBefore-landing Checklist        
3cTraffic Pattern        
3dMinimum Controllable Airspeed        
3eTurns to Heading        
3fForward Stall        
3gTurning Stall        
3hSpirals, Descents        
4aCollision, Windshear & Wake...        
4bRadio Procedures        
4cMinimum Sink        
4dSlips: Forward, Side, Turning        
4eBest L/D; Speed-to-fly        
4fBoxing the Wake        
4gCrosswind Takeoff        
4hCrosswind Landing        
4iUnassisted Takeoff        
4jCovered Instrument Landings        
4kPrecision Landings and Stops        
4lSlips to Landing        
6aSlack Line        
6bAerotow Emergency Procedures        
6dRope Breaks        
6ePilot-Induced Oscillations        
7aDownwind Landing        
7bTaxiing and Clearing Runway        
7dPostflight Inspection        
7fPre-Solo Written Test        
7gSpecial Awareness Training        
7hCheckride Rating Endorsement        
8aFirst Solo, A Badge        
8bThe B Badge        
8cThe C Badge        
8dThe Bronze Badge        
9aSpring Field Check        
9bFlight Review        
I affirm that I, __________________________________________________, 
have received satisfactory and complete instruction for solo flight, including 
all applicable topics listed above, and as also as defined in 14 CFR 61.87(i), 
61.107(a), and 61.107(b). 

Student's Signature, _____________________________________, Date ____________

Instructor's Signature, ____________________________________Date ____________.