How much does it cost to join the Club and get a glider pilot's license?

Our club has a one-time initiation fee of $350 and dues are $25/month.  Winch tows are $15 which includes the use of club gliders and an instructor.

While everyone is different, it typically takes about 40 flights to solo a glider.  An estimate of costs you can expect to pay is given below:

One-time club initiation fee: $300

FAA Written test: $175

FAA Designated pilot examiner fee: ~$600 (varies)

SSA yearly dues: $75

Club monthly dues: $25

Each flight: $15

How do gliders remain aloft for hours at a time and travel hundreds of miles?

Gliders, also known as sailplanes, can remain aloft for hours by utilizing the energy in the atmosphere. The sun is the ultimate cause for each of the following sources of rising air:


Thermals are rising columns of air that are caused by uneven solar heating of the ground. Most of the soaring conditions encountered in Texas are from thermals.
Slope Soaring

Ridge Soaring

Slope soaring refers to using updrafts produced by the mechanical lifting of air as it encounters the upwind slope of a hill, ridge or mountain. Slope soaring requires two ingredients: elevated terrain and wind.
Mountain Wave

Wave lift is created when stable air flows over a mountain or descends from the downwind side of a plateau. The air then “bounces” very high into the atmosphere. Altitudes of more than 50,000 feet have been achieved in gliders using mountain wave and distances of more than 2,000 kilometers flown using mountain wave system

How high/far can a glider fly?

Gliders are dependent on rising air to stay aloft - since a glider has no engine, it is constantly descending through the air. The answer to this question is it depends on the atmospheric conditions of any particular day. Arizona has fantastic conditions for soaring and during the summer months, rising air can reach altitudes of 15,000 ft and greater. On a normal soaring day, distance is really only limited by the pilot's skill and endurance. 500 km in an an afternoon is typical for a skilled soaring pilot.