Learning to Soar

Learn to Soar in a Modern FiberGlass Sailplane

Slipping through the air in a dual seat high-performance glider, your instructor will teach you to reach new heights in all styles of lifting air.


Training – What Can I Expect?

Caracole offers custom training schedules to meet each student’s needs. We are available year round, with excellent flying weather. We work on an appointment basis, to be certain you get the instructor's full attention while learning.

First, try an introductory lesson to see that the glider fits you well, that you are comfortable and that your instructor uses clear, sensible descriptions to put you at ease. The instructor is your teacher, confidante, role model, and cheerleader through the coming days, weeks or months of flight training. The teacher should inspire confidence, gently push and support you through any plateaus or confusion, and always be able to provide concise, thorough descriptions in layman’s terms as you enter the world of aviation. You will be expected to read and study some publications on soaring, general flight rules and the manual for the glider you are learning to use.

The optimum flight training schedule would be to fly on alternate days, spaced by ground school discussions on aerodynamics, glider assembly and maintenance, flight rules, navigation and instrumentation, launching techniques and safety, soaring weather and forecasting sources. Most people don’t have the leisure time for an alternate day schedule, and make do with once weekly appointments, or a short holiday for training.

Caracole prefers to train in high-performance two seaters. Other schools or clubs might use older, simpler machinery and have truncated training programs. Our customers seem to aspire to fly the most beautiful of sailpanes, and choose to train in similar equipment. Some modern sailplanes can seat a person up to 230 pounds and up to six feet three inches tall.

Beginner to Solo

A beginner in aviation would expect to fly an hour to an hour and a half during an appointment period, with a bit of ground review before and after flying. A homework assignment for review and preparation for the following lesson should be part of the schedule. A student’s logbook should be updated with both flight and ground instruction entries following the day’s work. This entry should be signed by the instructor.

A beginner should accrue about thirty to forty flights in completing a thorough training curriculum before flying solo. This curriculum should include a variety of occasions of simulating emergency situations. If a student flies each week, they should be ready to solo in about three months. Interruptions in the schedule or neglect of ground study will extend the training time.

A student must pass an instructor-given written test on general flight rules, and their solo sailplane before making solo flights. You will periodically fly with your teacher while accumulating the solo practice time required to qualify for your FAA Private Pilot test.

During your solo period, you may take an on-line written exam with the FAA, and after passing with a 70% grade, you may take a flight and oral exam for your FAA Private Glider certificate. As a Private pilot, you may take friends flying in our gliders.

Beginner to solo costs are typically $4200- $4800. Solo time adds about $2400.

Airplane Pilots and Glider Training

Already rated pilots in any other category may add a glider rating simply. Airplane pilots may take three hours of instruction, and ten dual flights, and meet the minimal FAA requirements. Caracole finds that for a complete curriculum, pilots will solo in about twenty flights, with a third of those involving emergency procedure training. Pilots who are not current will benefit from more instruction.

Solo requirements are similar, in that the FAA requires ten solo flights before a Private flight test, or twenty solos before qualifying for a Commercial flight test. A pilot can become enamoured of soaring, and find they lose focus on the test as a goal!

Current airplane pilots can solo in about $3000 with regular training.

Some airplane pilots no longer qualify for a flight medical, and turn to soaring. This is supported by Federal Aviation Regulations, and we will guide you back into the sky. Please call to discuss your situation.