Soaring Summer Session

For those of you who have been in Colorado during the summer knows that there are often high winds and afternoon thunderstorms that roll through and this greatly impacts the flying schedule on a daily basis.  Webguy was fortunate to make it out to Davis Airfield last week on a beautiful morning to capture photos of both students and Instructor Pilots (IP's) during this summer's soaring session.  

During the fourth-class academic year, the cadets will participate in the Introduction to Soaring Program (AM 250), which consists of 4 flights with one of them being an acrobatic flight.  This gives the cadets an opportunity to see if aviation is a career they would like to pursue once they graduate from the Academy. During the summer before their third-class year, they can enroll in Basic Soaring (AM 251), which consists of 14 glider sorties with the opportunity for a solo flight (depending on proficiency). Approximately 330 cadets participate in the Basic Soaring Course.  Basic Soaring graduates are eligible to apply to become Cadet Soaring Instructor Pilots (AM 461). Cadet Instructor Pilots conduct 95% of all glider flight instruction and go through a yearlong upgrade program during their third-class year to become Instructor Pilots (IPs).  This earns them their G-Wings and the title of “Youngest IPs in the Air Force”. Some Cadet IP’s compete nationally in aerobatics and sailplane racing team competitions.  The squadron operates 24 sailplanes (gliders) with 7 tow aircraft.

Students are seated in the front of the glider with the instructor directly behind them.  Student and Instructor both have a full set of controls which allows for hands on learning and instruction.


Once the glider is positioned on the runway, the rope from the tow plane is connected to the glider. The rope is inspected by the student and IP. Hand signals are used to let the student and IP know that the plane is hooked up properly and ready for takeoff.


There were some beautiful landings on the center runway as well as on the synthetic turf landing field.  The synthetic turf landing field is 430 feet wide and 3,000 feet long and is thought to be the largest single installation of synthetic turf in the world.  Bringing the gliders back to the runway is definitely a way for the cadets to get an extra workout!


To view the rest of the pictures of this Soaring Session go to: Galleries > Airmanship > Soaring or click the link below.

Soaring Summer Session