There are many reasons people begin to take soaring lessons, and then quit. Many more people try a few lessons and never continue, than those who actually solo. Many more solo than obtain a license. Many more obtain a license than obtain a Silver Badge, etc.
If you talk to these folks you will discover one of the major reasons for not continuing with the sport is uneasiness with the person's learning environment.
People who are attracted to soaring, tend to be above average types. Glider pilots tend to be presidents, managers, and owners of their own business, college graduates, and well-to-do people. They are aware the sport has some risks. Being well educated, they know what constitutes a proper, well-designed training course. When they begin to feel uneasy about their flight-training program, or their own abilities, they disappear.
During the SSA convention in Hartford Connecticut, I developed a simple, 10-question test. To take the test, you had to have a glider pilot's license. The multiple-choice test questions were designed to be the kind of questions every pilot should know the answer.
Here are a few of them. See how you do. (The answers are on the next page.)
1. What turns a glider?
A. The rudder.
C. A combination of the ailerons and rudder.
D. The unbalanced lift of the two wings as a result of a bank angle.
2. During a left turn on aero tow, the glider pilot should see:
A. The left side of the tow plane.
B. The right side of the tow plane.
C. Both sides (barely) of the tow plane equally.
D. It makes no difference as long as the glider remains in high tow.
3. During a constant speed, steep (45 deg) left turn, the controls will be held:
A. Back stick, right aileron, left rudder.
B. Back stick, right aileron, right rudder.
C. Back stick, left aileron, left rudder.
D. Back stick, left aileron, right rudder.
E. Back stick, aileron and rudder neutral.
The results of the ten question test were shocking. The average score was just 37%! On some questions, nearly everyone missed the correct answer.
I have given similar tests to other groups with the same results. During a glider flight instructor clinic, the flight instructors also ended up with a failing score.
If you do not like the answers I have chosen as "correct", please choose your own. The results are even worse.
The point of this test is to dramatize what many of us have known all along. Glider pilots do not have the basic knowledge required by the FARs. This lack of knowledge manifests itself in two serious ways: First, our accident rate is higher; second, intelligent people know enough to get out before they hurt themselves.
One of the primary reasons we suffer from a high turn-over rate in our sport, is the lack of a standardized flight-training program to ensure all pilots receive the flight and ground training required by law.
Fortunately, a proven, standardized flight-training program exists. It has become the most widely used flight-training program. The students who learn from this standardized system can easily demonstrate their superior knowledge, flying skills, and reduced accident rate.
This system has been refined over the past 30 years. The training manuals have gone through several editions. Flight instructors from around the country, and indeed around the world have played a major role in the current editions.
A simple effort will end regional differences, unify flight instructors, and make soaring a safer, more attractive sport.
Answers to questions:
#1B, #2A, #3A.