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Cross Country Manual for Glider Pilots
Author's Notes by Dean Carswell
This book is a guide for pilots in preparation for starting out to fly cross country. It summarizes the knowledge and skills needed to fly cross country successfully. It assumes that you already have (and retain) the knowledge and skills required to pass the knowledge and practical tests for the FAA private pilot glider rating, and that you have the skill and experience outlined in the "Skill/Experience Prerequisites" section.
The contents of this book are in the form of ground and flight instruction. Many successful cross country pilots have been self-taught. This is analogous to jumping in at the deep end of the swimming pool and teaching yourself to swim straight after having read Swimming for Dummies. A better way, both safer and quicker, is to learn with the help of a qualified instructor. This means you need to obtain the help of a qualified instructor to provide and supervise your practical training.
Many glider pilots who have not flown cross country, even those who have demonstrated good local soaring skills, perceive barriers to safe and successful cross country flight. Some barriers are physical: Lack of the various skills needed to make a safe and successful cross country flight. Some barriers are psychological: A general fear of not getting to the planned goal, and being forced to endure the risks and danger of an off-field landing, with no assurance of the safe outcome. These psychological fears have likely been increased by personal experience, e.g. when pressing further away from the home field, finding a couple of good looking clouds in succession then discovering nothing but heavy sink, engendering a lack of confidence in the ability to stay up. In addition, turning away from the home airfield, breaking the umbilical cord and getting beyond gliding distance from home, is the opposite of what all previous flights have involved: Getting back safely to the home airfield.
The ground and flight instruction in this book contributes to a confidence-building process to address and break down these psychological barriers. This includes landing at new airfields, and soaring flights that remain within gliding distance of an airport. Remember that the underlying logic of safe crosscountry flight is based on the premise that the probability of finding another thermal down your chosen route is just as high as finding one close to your home airfield.
Author: Dean Carswell, Chief Master Instructor, Soaring Society
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