Where you end up after your first solo depends on just how far you want to take your flying. The best thing you can do before you go solo is to plan out what you want to do after that! Solo really is only the beginning. There is so much more to go out there and achieve afterwards.
The Australian Junior Gliding Club Inc. (AJGC) and the Gliding Federation of Australia (GFA) encourage you to continue your development and will do everything they can to help you achieve whatever soaring goals you set for yourself.
A, B & C Certificates
Your first goal after flying solo will probably be your A, B, & C Certificates. These build upon what you have learned up to date and provide a list of some post-solo objectives. The claim form and full list of requirements can be found here.
Many pilots are quite comfortable to solely fly around their club site. The local pilot gets a sense of relaxation as well as satisfaction from engaging with the challenges of perfecting technique, getting high climbs or flying with others. There are also many social aspects of local soaring.
Flying for long distances is the ultimate joy for some pilots. Cross country flying offers a whole new level of enjoyment and challenges. New skills are developed in planning before your flights, the highs and lows of cross country flying, and evaluating after you fly. Cross country flying brings a multitude of joys, ranging from the ever changing scenery beneath you to the satisfaction of flying high and fast through good weather. Even abandoning your task and making an outlanding in a carefully selected paddock or at another airfield can offer the joys of meeting new people or developing a new friendship with your retrieve crew.
Before you go cross country you will need to obtain your Cross Country Endorsement issued by your Chief Flying Instructor (CFI). Usually this entails outlanding training and learning basic theory of cross country flying.
There are always new things to learn about cross country soaring and a good cross country pilot is always improving their knowledge of weather, navigation, cockpit technology, themselves and their glider. Cross country courses are run all year round by various GFA clubs and state associations. For more information, contact your local club or RTO sports listed here.
Once you have your cross country endorsement your instructors will probably start encouraging you to complete your silver C badge. This is an internationally recognised qualification and allows you to enter competitions (along with your competition license obtained through the GFA/FAI Certificates Officer).
The silver C is only the beginning of a whole host of Badges and Diplomas which you can aim to be awarded for your high level gliding performances. For more information Click here.
Along with the challenges of flying cross country comes the opportunity to test your flying skills against your friends and other pilots through flying in competitions. Competitions are held throughout Australia at all levels. The best place to start is probably at your club or state regattas. We also recommend beginning by coming to the Junior Nationals (JoeyGlide) and entering in the coaching program to get a real feel for competitions and developing your competition skills. Who knows, if you keep at it you might one day be selected to be a part of the Australian team and make your way to World Champion.
Many pilots gain immense satisfaction from teaching others to fly. There is great satisfaction in watching a pilot progress in their training and aviation career, knowing you played a major part in it. To gain the prestigious title of “Instructor” you must first be invited by your club’s instructors’ panel to become an Air Experience Instructor (AEI). From this you can progress to different levels and eventually, if you so desire, become your club’s Chief Flying Instructor (CFI). For more information, talk to any of your local club’s Instructors or to see the GFA Instructor’s Handbook click here.
Another thrill of being a pilot is the precision of aerobatics. Aerobatics manoeuvres when done right are fast, fun sequences for both pilot and spectators. Aerobatics can be done at just club level or lead into international aerobatic competitions. For more information talk to your local club’s instructors.
Gliders don’t just appear in good condition. Like a car, they have to be inspected and serviced every year at an absolute minimum. For some this can be more exciting than the actual flying itself. Pulling apart the glider can be every mechanical engineers’ dream and even for the novice pilot glider maintenance can provide the huge satisfaction learning and applying new skills to maintain the high standard of aircraft function. In a club environment, this is usually done as a series of social gatherings and your enjoyment can be doubled by knowing that you have helped each and every one of the pilots that go through. If you are interested in this aspect of gliding, talk to your Airworthiness officer or Regional Technical Officer of Airworthiness listed here.
It must be said that along with every new level of flying comes a new level of socialising. Wherever you go with your gliding you will find yourself making lifelong friendships within the gliding community. So don’t be afraid to speak up and try your hand at anything, you will get back what you put in!