Aim Higher with Soaring Coaching
The guidance published on this webpage is designed to support those at clubs who are involved in helping with the coaching and development of soaring pilots, as well as individual pilots who want to learn more about soaring.
Once a glider pilot has been taught to fly and having completed the theoretical knowledge and practical flying assessments to become a qualified pilot, there is an enormous amount of soaring and other gliding opportunity ahead. Most people are involved in gliding because of soaring aspirations.
Qualified pilots, ie those who have completed the Bronze and Cross-Country Endorsements and/or hold a valid sailplane pilot licence, continue to develop their soaring skills and experience in two ways. The first is through self-learning. The second is through being shown how. Both pre-suppose that the qualified pilot is aware of the opportunities, how he or she might want to develop as a pilot, and how to get there. Coaching can help enormously. It can be transformational.
A soaring coach – the term is used deliberately – can provide the support, guidance and practical help needed by qualified glider pilots who wish to progress in the sport. This can be as straightforward as chatting through the opportunities and helping a pilot to decide what they want to achieve. And it can get a bit more complicated when a coach gets airborne with a qualified pilot to encourage and help the pilot to develop soaring and cross-country skills.
Does a soaring coach need to be an instructor?
Helping a qualified pilot to improve their own soaring technique and skills is best carried out by highly experienced and current soaring and cross-country pilots who have the personal attributes that can support another pilot. Whilst it can obviously be helpful if a coach holds an instructor rating, an instructor rating is not required to coach a qualified pilot to improve their soaring techniques. Clearly any instruction for flight training, recency purposes or additional pilot qualifications, eg for aerobatics or cloud flying, does require an appropriately qualified instructor.
Does a soaring coach need to be formally qualified?
In a club environment, where club members engage with club activities in good faith, it is reasonable if the CFI locally approves soaring coaches who he or she deems suitably qualified and experienced. The BGA is considering whether a BGA soaring coach qualification process would add value.
Is soaring coaching safe?
Risk management is a key consideration when carrying out soaring coaching. There are traps when two qualified pilots are flying together that can be managed if they are thought through before getting airborne. BGA guidance on two pilots flying together is available in the BGA publication Managing Flying Risk. There must be no doubt before take-off about who is the pilot in command and therefore responsible for the safe conduct of the flight and the safety of the other pilot. In-flight decision making and landing out are key considerations.
What medical certificate is needed by a soaring coach?
Providing both occupants of the glider are qualified pilots, the medical requirement on the pilot in command is the same as that required for solo flight.
What about insurance?
Expert guidance should be sought on the level of insurance cover for gliders used for soaring coaching. Some clubs have increased their second seat liability cover beyond the minimum required by the BGA.
Where can a soaring coach learn more?
There are several good resources available including books by a number of gliding coaches including G Dale, Bernard Eckey and Kevin Atkinson, as well as numerous online publications provided by the English language national gliding associations websites. The BGA intends to develop specific resources for soaring coaching. There are a number of existing resources here.
Promoting your clubs soaring coaching activity!
Why not ask your club PR person to list any coaching opportunities open to members of other clubs on your club’s own BGA website page and send the details to the BGA office? We can help you to promote your activity.