The many requirements which must be met to obtain one's glider pilot license may at first seem somewhat daunting to someone in the early stages of this process. It is really not as onerous as it may first seem however, and the rewards of becoming a fully-licensed pilot are certainly worth the effort!
The following notes summarize all the required steps for the hypothetical scenario of a complete novice who is interested in becoming a glider pilot through training at the Saskatoon Soaring Club. The sequence of some of the steps need not necessarily be exactly as listed. Also, for those who already have some flying experience some of the requirements may not apply or may already have been met (for example, if someone is already a private or commercial pilot of engine aircraft they will already have their medical certificate and radio license). Throughout this summary relevant links to other websites or documents are provided as appropriate:
1. Club Membership Requirements
- Start with an Associate Membership using either the single FAM flight option or the SIX PACK option.
- Assuming you remain interested in soaring beyond those Associate Membership flights, you will then be required to pay for a Regular SSC Membership to obtain further glider training by our qualifed glider instructors. Regular Membership includes membership in the Soaring Association of Canada (SAC).
- See the Our Rates webpage for details on memberships.
2. Medical Requirements
Transport Canada stipulates a minimum requirement for a glider pilot of a category 4 medical waiver. However each soaring club can set their own minimum requirements and the Saskatoon Soaring Club's policy is that at least a category 3 medical certificate is required. This requires a checkup by a physician who is certified to perform aviation medicals. Refer to the Civil Aviation Medicine website for more information on medical requirements, and to find a
Civil Aviation Medical Examiner (CAME) in your community. Following your examination, the physician will submit his/her report to Transport Canada and you will later receive your Category 3 Medical Certificate in the mail. This will remain valid for 5 years before your next medical examination is due.
3. Student Pilot Permit
A Student Pilot Permit is required before your first solo flight can be taken. Requirements for obtaining this permit include:
- 2 certified copies of proof of age and citizenship (you must be 14 years of age or older)
- a valid Category 3 Medical Certificate (see above)
- a letter from your glider instructor indicating that you have sufficient skill and knowledge to fly solo
- a valid log book endorsed by an instructor
Once all this documentation is in order it will be submitted to a Transport Canada authorized person, who will then provide you with your Student Pilot Permit. When you do start flying solo as a student your solo privileges are limited to:
- only flying when under an instructor's supervision
- only flying under VFR (Visual Flight Rules) conditions
- not allowed to carry any passengers
4. Ground School
Each year the Saskatoon Soaring Club holds a 6-session 15-hour Ground School for new student pilots. See the
Ground School webpage for the dates when it will be held, the course books used, and a listing of the topics covered.
5. Radiotelephone Operator's Restricted Certificate (Aeronautical)
This certificate is required for you to operate a radio on aircraft frequencies. One of our club's members is authorized by Industry Canada to test your knowledge of the proper use a radio, and to provide you with this certificate. You can prepare for your test by reading through the
One of the requirements to becoming fully licensed as a glider pilot is that you must write a written exam (sometimes referred to as the GLIDE exam). In Saskatoon, this exam can booked and written at the office of Mitchinson Flying Service near the Saskatoon Airport. The address and phone number is:
Mitchinson Flying Service
Hangar # 8
Phone: (306) 244-6714
Before being eligible to take the written exam you must first have received the minimum 15 hours of Ground School as described above, and also have completed at least 75% of the required flight training. Your instructor will provide you with a letter certifying this, and you will bring this letter and your Student Glider Permit when you go to write the 50-question multiple-choice exam. The exam results (assuming you pass) are valid for 12 months preceding a glider license application.
Glider Pilot Licence Study Guide
Glider Pilot Licence Sample Examination
Map showing location of Mitchinson Flying Service
Glider Pilot License
The following are the requirements for obtaining your full glider pilot license:
- you must meet age and medical requirements (minimum age of 16, Category 3 medical certificate)
- you must hold a valid Student Pilot Permit
- you must have attended 15 hours of Ground School
- you must have achieved a minimum of 60% on the written exam
- you must have a minimum of 6 hours of flight time including 1 hour dual and 2 hours solo time including 20 solo flights with 360º turns
- you must have a certified log book
A licensed glider pilot may fly solo in any club aircraft if he/she is certified for the aircraft to be flown and the method of launch used. Details of further criteria to be met are included in the Saskatoon Soaring Club's Member's Handbook of Policies
and Standard Operating Procedures.
- you must have a letter from an instructor certifying your skills in normal and emergency situations
Glider Pilot Licence Check Sheets for a list of the set of skills you will be tested on)
8. And Beyond . . .
Once you have your glider pilot license, there are many other optional goals to work towards if you are interested. You might wish to acquire the further skills required to obtain your
Bronze Badge, and then continue on to mastering the techniques of
Cross-Country Soaring. Very motivated glider pilots may work towards the more challenging Silver, Gold and even Diamond tasks and badges. They may also choose to enter glider competitions at a provincial or national level. They may wish to become instructors so they can teach others how to fly. When it comes to soaring, the sky's the limit!