Monthly Soaring Magazine Articles for 2017

January - Avoiding First Flight of the Year Blues by Stephen Dee

For the vast majority of us who fly gliders, we do so for pure sport, and are consequently inclined to fly only when conditions are favorable. For many, seasonal flying is the norm; meaning that we park our gliders for the endurance of long, cold Winter months, and which also means that come Spring time, goofy things tend to happen when we first venture out to fly once again. Sadly, some of those goofy things result in Undesirable Aircraft States (UAS's) which lead to incidents, and accidents. Read the full article.

February - The "Remote" SSA Instructor Bronze Badge Process by Richard Carlson

The Soaring Society of America ABC/Bronze Badge program can be the cornerstone of an advanced glider training program. The badge program provides obtainable goals and challenges for students and newly rated glider pilots. By following this program pilots can develop the skills and knowledge to start on the path to safe and fun cross-country soaring. The SSA Badge program also helps pilots who fly locally build and maintain the skills and knowledge needed to enjoy those local flights. Read the full article.

March - Just Say No by Tom Johnson

Back in my Navy flying days, I had got the biggest dressing down I ever received from a comment I made at a squadron safety meeting. Our Operations Officer got up after my safety presentation and said that sometime you have to go anyway. I looked at him and replied that in wartime that may be the case, but in normal operations, "no flight is so important that it has to be flown." It was then explained to me, in no uncertain terms, that I was wrong and operational needs will override safety if the situation dictates. Read the full article.

April - Annual Soaring Safety Foundation Safety Summary by SSF Trustees

This report covers the FY16 (November 1, 2015 to October 31, 2016) reporting period. This summary is printed in SOARING, the complete report can be found on the SSF web site ( A review of the NTSB accident database shows a 15.8% decrease (16 vs 19) in the number of US soaring accidents during this time period compared to the FY15 reporting period. The number of fatal accidents in FY16 also decreased by 40% (3 vs 5) compared with FY15. It should also be noted that the number of insurance claims continued to decline in FY16, continuing a tread for the past 2 years.. While the long term trend in accidents reported to the NTSB continues to decline, there is general agreement that more steps must be taken to continue reducing the number of accidents and to eliminate all fatal accidents. Read the full article.

May - Punching Above our Weight by Rich Carlson

For most of the past 70 years the Federal Aviation Administration, and it’s predecessor the Civil Aeronautics Authority, have rigidly regulated aviation activities. Rules have been written that cover almost every facet of the pilot certification process, the aircraft certification process, and the operational aspects of flying. Read the full article.

June - You Can See a lot by Watching by Tom Johnson

One of the perks of being a professional pilot is being able to jumpseat around the country. Sometimes you get to ride in the back, and sometimes you have to be in the cockpit. Read the full article.

July - More is Better? by Tom Johnson

Believe it or not, flying a sailplane cross-country, or in a competition, or even thermalling at the field, requires many of the same skill sets as flying tactical jet aircraft off of an aircraft carrier. Read the full article.

August - Glider Flying 101 – The Positive Control Check, Pre-launch checklist, and Take-off by Rich Carlson

This month we start a series discussing basic training and flight maneuvers in gliders. We'll start with the glider on the ground getting ready for a launch and end several months from now with a post-flight debrief. We'll assume that you have completed the daily inspection or glider pre-flight inspection per the flight manual and that the glider is airworthy and you are mentally and physically ready for the flight as well. Read the full article.

September - The Basics of Flying a Glider in Aerotow by Ron Ridenour

When a pilot first learns to fly a glider during the aerotow, it can be quite intimidating. However, after only a few tows it becomes easier to determine the motion of the glider relative to the tow plane and maintain the normal tow position. This article details some of the important factors to remember during the towing procedure and a method to teach the art of flying the glider during the aerotow. Read the full article.

October - Towpilot and Glider Pilot Communications by Burt Compton

The Mandatory Briefing. By FAR 91.309(a)(5) "The pilots of the towing aircraft and the glider have agreed upon a general course of action, including takeoff and release signals, airspeeds and emergency procedures for each pilot." Note that using only radio does not relieve the pilots from using standard signals. Read the full article.

November - Self-Launching by Stephen Dee

Previous articles from the SSF have focused on the skills needed to safely launch by Aero Tow. In this article, I would like to turn to the skills needed for safe Self-Launching. Read the full article.

December - Basic Gliding - 103: Straight and Level Flight by Richard Carlson

In our last 3 articles we discussed the pre-launch and launch phase of flight (aerotow from the glider/towplane pilot's point of view and from the self-launching glider pilot's point of view). Now that you are off-tow it's time to begin the gliding flight where we slowly descending back down to pattern altitude and our landing. Read the full article.