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Glider Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge


The Glider Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge contains all of the information that a student must learn to meet the FAA requirements, to pass the FAA written test, and to pass the SSA bronze badge written test.


In the back of the manual, you will find review questions for each section. They consist of a combination of original questions, and questions taken from the FAA Airman Knowledge Test Question bank.


Inside the front cover of this handbook, you will find a list of topics titled “Aeronautical Knowledge Progress Record”.  The progress record includes every knowledge area that the student must master before taking the Private Pilot Knowledge Test, often referred to as the “written test”.  Every topic in the progress record corresponds to a section in this handbook. Extra copies of the progress record are available in the downloads section of this web site.


  • Covers all knowledge areas required to pass the FAA written and oral tests, and the SSA Bronze Badge Test
  • Logical, ordered, and complete presentation of material
  • Clear, straightforward writing and illustrations
  • Fully indexed
  • Glossary of soaring terms
  • 424 pages
  • 260 figures
  • 444 review questions
  • Includes "Knowledge Training Progress Record"


Price: $84.50 each


(discounts available for bulk orders)



Aeronautical Knowledge Progress Record



Using this Handbook

Aeronautical Knowledge Training Progess Record

Getting Your License

The Sport of Soaring

Your Feedback

About the Author


Chapter 1: Glider Familiarization


1.1 The Glider

Wing Configurations

Tail Configurations

Tow Hook Configurations

Wheel/Skid Configurations

Glide Slope Control



1.2 Flight Manual


Minimum Equipment List

Stall/Spin Recovery Procedures

Preflight Checklist

Assembly/Disassembly Instructions


1.3 Documentation

Airworthiness Certificate

Registration Certificate

Operating Limits

Weight and Balance


Chapter 2: Airport Familiarization


2.1 Operating Procedures


2.2 Airport Markings

Runway Designations

Segmented Circle

Wind/Active Runway Indicators

Closed Runway

Displaced Threshold

Taxiway Lines

Hold Short Marking


Taxiway Signs

Runway Holding Position Signs

Runway Distance Remaining Sign


2.3 Airport Lighting


2.4 Airport Traffic

Types of Aircraft and Pilots

Looking for Traffic



2.5 Wake Turbulence

Vortex Generation

Vortex Strength

Vortex Behavior

Wake Turbulence Avoidance


Chapter 3: Aerodynamics


3.1 Nomenclature

Airfoil Nomenclature

Glider Axis


3.2 Three Forces





3.3 Airspeed Limits

Stall Speed

Maneuvering Speed

Rough Air Speed

Maximum Aerotow Speed

Never-Exceed Speed


3.4 Turning Flight

Forces in a Turn

Slips and Skids


3.5 Load Factor


3.6 Stability

Pitch Stability

Roll Stability

Yaw Stability


Chapter 4: Performance


4.1 Glide Ratio

Determining Glide Distance

Determining Required Altitude


4.2 Glider Polars

Maximum Glide Ratio

Minimum Sink Speed


4.3 Effects of Wind





4.4 Effects of Lift/Sink




4.5 Effects of Wing Loading

Effect of Wing Loading on Best Glide Speed

Effect of Wing Loading on Minimum Sink Speed

Effect of Wing Loading on the Polar

Altitude Lost During a Turn


Chapter 5: Flight Instruments and Systems


5.1 The Atmosphere

Properties of the Atmosphere

The Standard Atmosphere

Measuring Pressure


5.2 Primary Instruments


Airspeed Indicator


Yaw String/Inclinometer



5.3 Secondary Instruments


Gyroscopic Instruments


Automatic Direction Finder (ADF)


5.4 Other Flight Systems



Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT)/Personal Locator Beacons (PLB)


Global Positioning System

Electronic Flight Computer

Flight Recorder

Oxygen Equipment


Chapter 6: Weather for Soaring


6.1 The Atmosphere

Composition of the Atmosphere

The State of the Atmosphere


6.2 Dew Point

Dew and Frost


6.3 Atmospheric Stability

Dry Adiabatic Lapse Rate

Saturated Adiabatic Lapse Rate

Temperature/Dew-Point Convergence



6.4 Clouds


Classification According to Height Range

Classification According to Appearance


6.5 Fog


6.6 Precipitation


Freezing Rain/Drizzle

Ice Pellets/Hail



6.7 Weather Systems


Coriolis Effect

Mean Global Circulation Pattern

Air Mass Migration


Cyclonic Low-Pressure Systems

The Jet Stream


6.8 Describing the Weather

Weather Maps

Satellite Photos



6.9 Thermal Soaring Weather

Thermal Structure

Thermal Lifecycle

Air Masses Conducive to Thermal Soaring

Atmospheric Soundings

Skew-T/Log-P Diagram

Determining Thermal Conditions from a Skew-T/Log-P Diagram

Indices for Predicting Thermal Strength and Cloud Levels



6.10 Ridge Soaring Weather


6.11 Wave Soaring Weather

Understanding Mountain Wave.

Clouds Associated with Mountain Wave


6.12 Convergence Lift

Sea Breeze Fronts

Mountain Lee Convergence

Mountain Top Convergence

Valley Convergence


6.13 Predicting Soaring Weather

Scale and Timing of Weather Events

Sample Predictions

Practicing Forecasts


Chapter 7: Aviation Weather Services


7.1 Sources of Weather Services

Flight Service Station (FSS) and Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS)

Direct User Access Terminal Service (DUATS)

En route Flight Advisory Service (EFAS)

Transcribed Weather Broadcast (TWEB)

Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS) and Automated Surface Observation System (ASOS)


7.2 Weather Briefings

Briefing Types

Obtaining a Briefing


7.3 Observations

Aviation Routine Weather Reports (METAR)

Weather Depiction Chart

Radar Summary Charts and Radar Weather Reports (SD)

Pilot Weather Reports (PIREPs)


7.4 Forecasts

Terminal Aerodrome Forecast (TAF)

Aviation Area Forecast (FA)

Winds and Temperatures Aloft Forecast (FD)

Significant Weather Prognostic Chart


7.5 In-Flight Aviation Weather Advisories


Convective SIGMET




Chapter 8: Medical Factors


8.1 Physiological Issues

Middle Ear and Sinus Problems

Spatial Disorientation (Vertigo)

Motion Sickness






Decompression Sickness After Scuba Diving



8.2 Mental Issues




Extreme Emotion


8.3 Chemicals

Alcohol/Recreational Drugs




Table of Contents


To see the first 5 pages of any chapter, click on the Chapter Title.

Chapter 9: Regulations


9.1 Definitions and Abbreviations


9.2 Maintenance Requirements

Preventive Maintenance

Approving Return to Service

Record of Required Inspections


9.3 Certification of Pilots

Required Documents

Limitations on a Certificate

Denying or Revoking Certification for Drug and Alcohol Use

Duration of Pilot Certificates

Prerequisites for Student Pilot Certificate/Solo

Student Pilot Limitations

Prerequisites for the Knowledge Test

Prerequisites for the Practical Test

Private Pilot Limitations

Pilot Logbook

Medical Requirements

Flight Review Requirements

Recent Flight Experience

Change of Address

Tow Pilot Requirements

Certificate Issued Based on a Foreign Pilot License


9.4 General Operating Rules

Responsibility for Operation of the Aircraft

Operating Limits

Dropping Objects from Aircraft

Alcohol or Drug Use

Portable Electronic Devices

Required Preflight Actions

Seat Belt Use

Formation Flight, Operating Near Other Aircraft

Right of Way Rules

Minimum Operating Altitudes

Inspections, Maintenance, Repairs, Alterations

Required Documentation

Altimeter Settings

ATC Clearance

ATC Light Signals

Aircraft Position Lights

Oxygen Requirements

Aerobatic Flight

Glider Towing

Experimental Category Aircraft


9.5 Accident Reporting


Chapter 10: Flight Publications


10.1 Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs)


10.2 Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM)


10.3 Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs)


10.4 Airport/Facility Directory (A/FD)


10.5 Advisory Circulars (ACs)


Chapter 11: Airspace


11.1 Why Have Airspace?

The Airspace Environment


11.2 Controlled Airspace

Class A Airspace

Class B Airspace

Class C Airspace

Class D Airspace

Class E Airspace


11.3 Uncontrolled Airspace

Class G Airspace


11.4 Special Use Airspace




Military Operations Areas

Alert Areas


11.5 Other Airspace

Airport Advisory Areas

Military Training Routes (MTR)

Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR)

Parachute Jump Areas

Published VFR Routes

Terminal Radar Service Areas (TRSA)

National Security Areas


Chapter 12: Aeronautical Charts and Navigation


12.1 Latitude and Longitude

Time Zones


12.2 VFR Aeronautical Charts


VFR Terminal Area Charts (TAC)

World Aeronautical Charts (WAC)


12.3 Reading Aeronautical Charts

Physical Features


Controlled Airspaces

Radio Aids to Navigation (NAVAID)

Special Use Airspace

Other Airspace Areas


12.4 Navigation

Determining the Course Bearing

Determining Wind Correction Angle

Determining Time en Route

Dead Reckoning


Lost Procedures


Chapter 13: Radio Communications


13.1 Radio Technique

The Radio



13.2 Who Are You Talking To?

Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF)


Air Traffic Control (ATC)

Flight Service Station (FSS)

En Route Flight Advisory Service (EFAS or Flight Watch).

Air Guard


13.3 When to Use the Radio

Position Reports from Other Gliders

Glider to Crew

Relay to Ground Crew

Operating Around Uncontrolled Airports

Operating Around Controlled Airports

Operating In Special Use Airspace

Obtaining Weather Reports

Flight Following


Lost While Airborne

Emergency Procedures


Chapter 14: Personal Equipment


14.1 Attire for Flying






14.2 Food and Water




14.3 Parachutes

Parachute Storage

Parachute Preflight Inspection

Parachute Fitting

Bail-Out Procedure


14.4 Survival Kit

Food and Water


Medical Concerns



Suggested Survival Kit Items


Chapter 15: Cross-Country Soaring


15.1 Glide Slope Management

Safety Factor

Safe Glide Zone

The Glide Slope Ruler

Using a Glide Slope Ruler

Safe Glide Circles

Constructing a Glide Slope Ruler


15.2 Cross-Country Supplies

Personal Items

Navigation Items


15.3 Speed-to-Fly Theory

Speed Made Good

Maximizing Speed Made Good

Using a Speed Ring

Selecting a Speed Ring Setting

The Speed Ring and Maximizing Distance Covered


15.4 Getting Started


Practicing Skills


15.5 Choosing a Route


15.6 Flying the Route

Determining Winds Aloft

Go/No-Go Decisions

Pilot Attitude



15.7 Off-Field Landing

Recognizing and Accepting the Situation

Determining Wind Speed and Direction

Selecting a Suitable Landing Field

Pattern and Landing


15.8 Retrieve

Ground Retrieve



15.9 Crew Duties


During Flight



Chapter 16: Aeronautical Decision Making


16.1 Situational Awareness

What is Situational Awareness?

Areas Requiring Situational Awareness

Obstacles to Good Situational Awareness

Enhancing Situational Awareness

Situational Awareness Self-Assessment


16.2 Judgment

A Systematic Approach to Decision Making


Obstacles to Good Judgment

Enhancing Good Judgment


16.3 Self-Discipline

Obstacles to Self-Discipline

Enhancing Self-Discipline






Review Questions


Answer Key




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