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Your CFI Certificate is Waiting for You

So you want to have people try and kill you for your fun? I mean you want to share soaring with others and teach others how to fly by becoming a glider flight instructor? Well the SSA announced on October 31, 2018, there is a scholarship available for those looking at getting their CFI (Certified Flight Instructor) rating.

About once a year I get a CFI applicant. But there is a lot of homework for them to do first. I have been working with one coming out here in a few months, working on finalizing his spouses’ plans while being in Southern California and dealing with our harsh winters of 60 degrees.

FAA Requirements for CFI

The FAA has a minimum flight experience requirement for becoming a CFI, it is a whopping 15 hours. Which is different than the commercial, which has a minimum number of flights requirement. I have yet to meet anyone that I would feel comfortable getting a CFI with only 15 hours. So at least the FAA minimum is not difficult to get.

You want to have enough flight experience that you do not have to think about the flying. You also want to be able to show your student how to use lift and maybe have some experience going cross country. The idea being you have the experience to teach the student how to soar and grow the sport.

Lesson Plans

Lesson plans are a great way to organize your thoughts. What are the key points you want to make sure the student takes home? I had an applicant that was teaching a spin lesson or at least attempting to, however, he had missed a few key points during the 20 min lesson. It was not for a lack of knowledge but a lack of organized thoughts.

How are you going to have lesson plans organized? Based on the PTS or on each individual lesson? Lesson plans based on the PTS might not be as practical for day to day use. You might want them broken down even more and more detailed. However, it will at least get you through your checkride.

An example would be the PTS lumps all of the instruments together. However I teach them in two parts, ones we have in the 2-33 then later we look at a private ship that is fully equipped.

You have to be flexible when teaching in gliders. Sometimes it is going to be hard if your lesson plans are set up as lesson 1,2,3…You might want to work on landings but it turns out to be a great soaring day and rather than waste the 10,000 ft cloudbase you going soaring instead.

I like when my CFI applicants show up with a rough draft of their lesson plans. That way I know they have put some thought into how they are going to teach. How are they going to explain something to their student in multiple ways? Plus getting those pesky written tests out of the way is good.

The checkride is one of the easiest ones. It is open note because you made lesson plans you can open up the page to that section and teach. Using your notes, figures in books and online.

CFI Resources

Knowing your resources is priceless. If I want a good diagram for a skew-T chart I can flip right to it in Russell Holtz’s book. The Joy of Soaring has a good cartoon for the side profile of a cross-country flight. When I want a good diagram of a steering turn incorrectly labeled I can use the FAA Glider Flying Handbook.

Start giving Rides as a Commercial Pilot before your CFI

One thing we like doing is having our CFI’s start out doing rides while they are commercial pilots. You can figure out what works and what doesn’t for explaining concepts. You get a large variety of experience levels which makes it easier when teaching.

If you have the experience and passion for sharing and growing the sport, the next 18 months might be the time to get it done.

Banner Photo:  Simona Foltinova


RESTOP® Pilot Relief RS1 has super absorbent polymers and enzymes that will absorb a full 20 ounces of urine. The wide opening with semi-rigid rim allows for easy use by men or women. The one–way valve prevents spillage should the used bag be accidentally dropped. RESTOP® contains the odor as well as the waste. The blend of polymers and enzymes eliminate odor.

Pilot relief on a long soaring flight is a necessity. RESTOP® is good relief system for glider pilots. It’s easy to use, sanitary and environmentally friendly.

Winter Vario

Winter Vario – Vane–type variometers measure the change in air pressure inherent to changes in altitude. The Vario has a cylindrical chamber with a precision–fit baffle plate (vane) rotating on shockproof jewel bearings and centered by a coil spring. The vane divides the chamber in two: one section is open to static pressure, while the other is connected to an expansion tank, in which a volume of air is insulated against the thermal effects.

Differences in pressure are compensated by the narrow gap between vane and chamber wall. There is a change in static pressure when an aircraft climbs or descends, and a differential pressure is established between the two sections of the chamber. The resultant deflection of the vane provides a measure of the vertical speed and this deflection is transferred to the pointer of the instrument.

The response rate of a variometer is important. In high–performance gliding, lift can be identified all the quicker and used all the more efficiently if the variometer responds without delay. Defined as the length of time the instrument takes to reach 65% of its final reading in response to a sudden change in vertical speed, the time constant serves as a standard for gauging the speed of response. The faster a variometer responds, the smaller is its time constant.

garret willat  Garret Willat holds a flight instructor rating with over 8000 hours in sailplanes. His parents have owned Sky Sailing Inc. since 1979. He started instructing the day after his 18th birthday. Since then, Garret has represented the US Junior team in 2003 and 2005. He graduated from Embry-Riddle with a bachelor’s degree in Professional Aeronautics. Garret represented the US Open Class team in 2008 and 2010 and the Club Class team in 2014. Garret has won 3 US National Championships.