Go solo


Find your local gliding club

There are 19 gliding clubs in South Africa. Contact your nearest club to find out if they offer passenger (PAX) flights in a two-seater gilder to get a feel for the sport. Most clubs fly and train at weekends. They will usually allow you to have an introductory flight at club rates if you plan to join the club immediately or within a short time. Most clubs train in a similar way, usually on weekends, some offer short courses and some have professional training.

Getting started

There are membership fees for the various bodies that run the sport.
• Gilding club fee – this helps keep the planes in the air
• Soaring Society of South Africa membership on an annual basis
• Aeroclub of South Africa fee – this body oversees all sports aviation Tip: Most clubs will let you start gliding training while you start sorting out the regulatory stuff.

Step 2

Start your training

All training is done in a two-seater gilder with a qualified instructor. You will be given a Student Training Manual by your club and will learn both the theory and practical aspects of flying. The instruction is usually free, but you have to pay for each launch at the club’s agreed rate.

There are several options:

Option 1: Professional training Intensive training at agreed times (more or less full-time) can be arranged at two clubs, the Cape Gliding Club (CGC) in Worcester, Western Cape, and AkaVlieg in Potchefstroom, North-West Province.

Option 2: Club courses Ad hoc courses are run usually twice a year at two clubs, the CGC in Worcester and the Magalies Gliding Club in Magaliesberg, Gauteng. Click here for a link to document on training courses offered

Option 3: Club training Most pilots train through the club system, coming out to the club as often as they can and receiving instruction from club instructors. Remember it’s a club – no-one gets paid so when you join as a member you will need to contribute as well, and show enthusiasm and cooperation.

There are two different launch methods for training;
• Aerotow where the glider is towed up by a small powered aircraft. You will then release at altitude and commence training.
• Winch launch where a cable propels the glider into the air. This method is cheaper per launch, but requires more flights and takes longer to reach solo status.


Get your Learner Certificate

Before you can go solo – fly on your own in a single-seater glider – you need to get a student pilot’s licence, also known as a RA GPL 03 Learner Certificate. This is issued by the Recreational Aviation Administration of South Africa (RAASA).

These are the requirements:
• A valid Class 4 medical certificate. You can get one from an aviation doctor (many of them advertise). If you think you have any medical problems, it is recommended you do this early.
• A certified copy of your passport or identity document
• Two passport-sized photographs Your instructor needs to sign off that you have successfully completed a basic knowledge of flying test (TS 68.02.2).

Your club will provide you with a syllabus for this test, which includes the following:
• Aircraft general technical
• Air law appropriate to student pilots (some clubs require the air law exam to be written)
• Local rules appropriate to the airfield in use. All paperwork needs to be sent to RAASA at Rand Airport. Using a courier is recommended. If everything is in order, RAASA will send it back within a few days.

Download RA GPL 03 Learner Certificate form


Going Solo

After several months of training you are nearing the milestone of your first solo flight. In order to do so, you must be able to carry out a safe and accurate launch, approach and landing. First, a student pilot must be checked by a full instructor and approved by the chief flying instructor of the club or a panel of three full instructors.

These are the requirements:
• Proficiency in exercises 1 to 14 in your Student Training Manual.
• The ability to reasonably execute a simulated emergency landing from any position in the circuit.
• Completion a minimum of 6 (six) hours of dual instruction.
• A valid Student Pilot License (see above)..




step 5

Building your experience

You are now on your way to qualifying as a glider pilot. Going solo is the first and most basic milestone (although a very exciting one) and you now need to build your experience.

During the first three hours of solo flight, student pilots must remain in the circuit area, not more than five nautical miles (10 km) from the airfield and must consolidate exercises 9, 12 and 13.

Student pilots must receive a dual check-out after the first solo and at the start of each day’s flying, until the three hours are achieved. The responsible instructor must be on the airfield when you doing this.

Some clubs require 10 flights on a training glider before the student pilot can convert onto a single-seat aircraft.

All flights need to be signed off by an instructor and no passengers may be taken.

step 6

Gaining your Glider Pilot's Licence

You are about to venture out and experience the wonderful world of gliding, and even to tackle your first competitions.

These are the requirements for your pilot’s licence:
• A total of 40 flights, including your training flights and skills test passed.
• A minimum of 20 solo flights, with at least six solo flight hours with one flight being a minimum of two hours duration.
• A minimum of 10 flights per launch method – your license can be issued for winch and aero tow.
• A restricted radio licence, which must be completed online on the RAASA website. Most clubs use outside instructors for the radio course.
• Completing all your exams, which are written at club level based on study material supplied by the club.
• A completed form RA GPL-05(a), which must be signed off by an instructor and sent to RAASA. 


Download RA GPL-05(a) form

Congratulations you are now a qualified GPL pilot!
Once qualified you have a range of exciting goals to aim for, including gliding badges, competitions, records and a huge amount of exciting recreational flying. Find out more

Would you like to find out more?