The "Private Pilot" license is your basic license. It allows you to fly without the supervision of a flight instructor and to carry passengers.
Club vs. Commercial Flight School
A club environment works well for most students but for some, a commercial flight school may be a better choice. Here are some advantages and disadvantages of each.
Learning to fly gliders will likely be an exhilarating and fulfilling experience. However, learning how to fly gliders takes time, money, talent, and determination. Because each of us has a different amounts of each of these items available, each person will learn at a different pace. Some people make it to the point of solo in as few as 25 flights or as many as 110. The average is about 35 - 40 flights. Much depends on the individual and how they go about their training. As a general rule, lessons should be as often as possible. About 2 lessons per trip to the airport is highly recommended as is flying every weekend. The longer the time span between lessons, the slower your progress will be because you tend to forget skills previously learned.
Please purchase the following books prior to your first lesson.
You can purchase these, online, from the Soaring Society of America (SSA) or from Knauff and Grove. Bob Wander's Soaring Books and Supplies is another great source. Lastly, a large number of soaring books are available from amazon.com - especially used or out of print books. If you're into books, check out the club's suggested reading list.
If you were introduced to soaring by the Soaring Society of America FAST program, you'll have received a text book (though not the club required Glider Basics), a log book, a hat, and a one year SSA membership (a GBSC requirement).
If you are not a licensed pilot, you must have a student pilot license before you can fly solo in a glider. Getting one is easy and free. You can pick one up one at your nearest FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO). See the FAA resources section for details.
When your instructor has determined that you are ready to fly solo, you will be given a short (take home) Pre-Solo Written Test . After that is evaluated, he/she will then sign your student pilot license - making it valid. As a solo student pilot you may not carry passengers. You also have the following restrictions:
If you are a licensed pilot (but not a glider pilot), your instructor needs only to make an appropriate entry in your logbook.
As a solo student pilot, club policy is to fly with an instructor at least one flight in 5 - more often if an instructor determines that that is necessary. When flying solo, you goal is to practice and increase your proficiency so that you meet (if not exceed) the standards required for you to pass your FAA license test.
Private pilot license requirements
Note that the flight hours and flight numbers are the minimums required by the FAA. Most students will have more experience by the time they are authorized to take the private pilot practical test.
The Sport Pilot Certificate
In 2004, the FAA established a new Sport Pilot certificate. Due to the many restrictions of this certificate, the club recommends that the typical student pilot should train to the Private Pilot standards, mentioned above.