Learn to Soar in our HK 36 Diamond X-treme Touring Motor Glider!
Aspen Flying Club is pleased to offer glider instruction in the newest Diamond X-treme touring motor glider in North America. These motor gliders are pure adventure to fly cross-country (power on and power off) because of its superb visibility through a pristine canopy. Flying a motor glider is a true air adventure!
Our Touring Motor Glider – the HK 36 TTC Motor Glider:
- Wingspan 54 ft
- 458 NM range with motor running
- Glide ratio 27:1
- Best glide speed 57 KTS
- Cruise speed 120 KTS at 75% with 5.7 Gal/Hr
- Rotax 914 F3, 115 HP turbo-charged engine
- Manufactured in Austria
- Fully FAA certified
N392GL, our Diamond X-treme Motor glider (official Diamond HK 36 TTC Motor glider), was built in Austria and has a turbo-charged engine with constant speed propeller. It is equipped with tricycle gear for easy take-off and landing. Additional technical details on Diamond Xtreme Motor gliders can be found at the Diamond Austria website.
What is a Motor Glider?
Let’s begin by defining a motor glider. First, in FAA terminology, all sailplanes are “gliders” and what we often refer to as “motor gliders” still fall into the Glider aircraft category. Further, the FAA term for a motor glider is a “Powered Glider” as described in Advisory Circular (AC) 21.17-2a. This AC states three requirements for certification as a powered glider. First, it must be either single or two-place (no double back seats allowed). Next, it is limited to a maximum gross weight of 850 kg or 1874 lbs. Finally, it must have a weight/span loading maximum of .62 lbs/square foot. This last requirement is to preclude designs that are essentially lightweight powered airplanes from qualifying as motor gliders. In addition to the AC 21.17-2a requirements, FAR 91.205 lists the required engine instrumentation. As a point of note, “pure” gliders have no instrument requirements, (because they are not airplanes) other than that included on their individual Type Data Certification Sheets.
What qualifications does it take to fly a Motor glider?
The first requirement is having a glider rating type on your Pilot certificate. The next requirement is to be trained and qualified for Self-Launching. The FAA recognizes three launching methods, and you must be qualified for whatever method you utilize. The three are Ground Launch, (winch, auto tow, bungee) Aero Tow, and Self-Launch. With regard to the latter, pilots of “Powered Gliders” must comply with FAR 63.31(j) (1) (iii), which states: No person may act as pilot in command of a glider – using self-launch procedures, unless that person has satisfactorily accomplished ground and flight training on self-launch procedures and operations, and has received an endorsement from an authorized instructor who certifies in that pilot’s logbook that the pilot has been found proficient in self-launch procedures and operations.
Regardless of the launch method, to be legal the pilot must be trained and receive a log book endorsement.
Why Motor Gliders?
Motor gliders are a cross between airplanes and gliders. They offer the following advantages:
- The ability to fly without a medical certificate. Since they are gliders, there is no provision for denial of this privilege in the event that a medical certificate has been previously denied, as in Light Sport Aircraft. Like any other glider (or airplane, for that matter), the pilot is expected to not fly if they believe they are not fit to fly –self-certification.
- The ability to self-launch without a tow plane or winch.
- The ability to fly during times when there is limited lift – early mornings, evenings – winter.
- The ability to go places. These are well-designed traveling machines, capable of long-distance flights.
- Since they have an electrical system, they are equipped with radios, GPS, and transponder/encoders, allowing flight within Class B airspace.
- Unlike LSA aircraft, they are not restricted to altitudes of 10,000 feet.
- With their long wings, they burn very little fuel – 2.5 to 5.5 gallons per hour, depending on the engine type. Of course, they burn NO fuel with the engine shut off! Rotax engines can be used with auto fuel. In fact they prefer it with a minimum 91 octane.
- With their large wing area, these aircraft offer low stall speeds, fast climb, and near-STOL capabilities. They usually employ glider-like spoilers or airbrakes for direct lift control and steep descents. Once you fly an aircraft with spoilers, you’ll wonder why every airplane doesn’t have them.
- The ability to fly a unique aircraft… an aircraft sure to turn heads where ever you go.
- For a private pilot converting to gliders, a minimum of 10 solo flights are required to qualify to take the glider flight test. No written exam is required – just a flight test with a Designated Pilot Examiner – and it counts as a biennial flight review.
Discovery Glider Flights
Aspen Flying Club offers two types of glider discovery flights.
Aspen Flying Club Glider Training
Aspen Flying Club offers courses for the beginning glider pilot as well as advanced courses.
Self-Launch Endorsement Training
A self-launch endorsement is required to operate any glider which can take off under its own power. This includes touring motor gliders like the Diamond Xtreme. For pilots who are current in both an airplane and a glider the endorsement can be as quick as 2 hours of flight and 1 hour of ground instruction. For the glider only rated pilot, the self-launch endorsement may take 15 to 20 hours of flight instruction.
This course offers self-launch endorsement training to all licensed glider pilots. We use the syllabus found in AC 61-94 as a guideline. Each course is tailored to the needs of the student but ensures they are proficient in the management of a self-launch glider.
Using the glider strictly as self-launch they will fly to altitude, turn off the engine, and then perform all actions one would normally do for non-motorized gliders.
The student is also exposed to using the glider as a touring glider where we fly to other airports using suitable navigation methods and fly expected traffic patterns based on airspace type.
Add-On Glider Rating
Licensed airplane pilots who are current can obtain a glider rating by completing all of the training elements in this course.
The FAA requirements for a glider add-on rating to a private or sport airplane rating is 3 hours logged time in a glider and 10 solo flights. A good guideline is to double these requirements to prepare for the flight exam. No written test is required for the private airplane rated pilot. The average cost is about $2000 to $2500.
- at least 3 hours of flight time in a glider, including:
- 10 training flights; and,
- 10 solo flights; and
- 3 training flights in preparation for the practical test within the preceding 2 months.
The course starts with a review of basic airmanship with specific emphasis on stick and rudder skills using the natural horizon as the primary pitch and bank reference.
The student then develops proficiency in flying glider approaches to landing, where they must manage the glide cone to insure safe outcomes in varying wind conditions.
Typically within seven hours they’ve demonstrated mastery of the glider, then an instructor will issue an endorsement to perform the ten required solo flights.
Another two hours brings them to the standards required for the practical flight test.
Upon completing the flight check, you gain entry into the exciting world of glider flying.
Primary Glider Training / Private Pilot Certificate, with Glider Rating: FAR 61.102-61.120
This course offers all the required flight training for an FAA Private Pilot Glider rating where the student is not a currently rated pilot.
The FAA requirements for an initial glider rating are 10 hours total time and 10 solo flights. Also required are a written test and the flight exam with an FAA Examiner. Most people need about twice this amount of time to be fully prepared for the flight test. For each hour of flight training, about a half hour is required for preflight and post flight briefing. A student pilot can solo at age 14, and must be 16 to get the private glider rating. The average cost of a glider rating is under $5000.
The applicant for a private pilot-glider certificate must meet requirements for aeronautical knowledge, experience, and demonstrate proficiency as defined in those sections of the FAR.
- Age requirement: at least 16 years of age.
- Be able to read, speak, write, and understand English.
- Pass a knowledge test on areas defined by FAR 61.105, including weather, aircraft operation, aerodynamics and applicable FAR’s. (Initial certificate issuance.)
- As per FAR 61.31(j), a logbook endorsement for the type of launch(s) proficiently demonstrated by the applicant will be made as part of the recommendation by the flight instructor for the applicant to take the practical test.
- During the practical flight test, demonstrate proficiency in areas described in FAR 61.107, including launches, performance maneuvers, emergencies, and landings.
- The experience requirements, as described in FAR 61.109 (f), vary according to previous flight experience.
For applicants who have not logged at least 40 hours of flight time as a pilot;
- at least 10 hours of flight training in a glider, including;
- 20 training flights; and,
- 2 hours of solo flights in gliders with not less than 10 launches and landings; and,
- 3 training flights in preparation for the practical test.
The glider is an excellent way to start to learn how to fly because it helps develop the basic airmanship skills every pilot should have. Early in the student’s training, they will learn to master coordinated use of all flight controls using the natural horizon as the primary pitch and bank reference.
Building on these skills, they quickly go to mastering glider approaches and landings.
Throughout the training, when good lift conditions exist, the student hones their flying skills on locating, centering, and flying thermals.
After soloing and completing the required ten solo flights, the training concludes with preparation flights for the practical flight test.
All of this training takes approximately 30 flight hours.
The FAA does require primary students complete the written knowledge test for Private Pilot Glider and Aspen Flying Club can help with this requirement.
Commercial Pilot Certificate, with Glider Rating: FAR 61.121-61.141
- Age requirement: at least 18 years of age.
- Be able to read, speak, write, and understand English.
- Hold at least a private pilot certificate (for heavier-than-air aircraft.)
- For initial certificate issuance, pass a knowledge test (FAR 61.125) and practical test (61.127). The launch method(s) endorsed in the pilot’s logbook (61.31(j)) determines in which type of launch(s) the pilot has demonstrated proficiency.
There are two levels of experience required for issuance of a commercial certificate; Either level of experience may qualify you for Commercial with Glider Rating.
Level 1: At least 25 hours as a pilot in gliders, including;
- 100 flights in gliders as pilot in command; and,
- 3 hours of flight training or 10 training flights in gliders; and,
- 2 hours of solo flight to include not less than 10 solo flights; and,
- 3 training flights in preparation for the flight test.
In summary, the applicant must have logged at least 25 hours in gliders and made at least 110 flights.
Level 2: Have logged at least 200 hours in powered aircraft; including,
- 20 flights in gliders as pilot in command; and,
- 3 hours of flight training or 10 training flights; and,
- 5 solo flights in a glider; and,
- 3 training flights in preparation for the flight test.
To summarize, an applicant with at least 200 hours in powered aircraft must have logged at least 3 hours and 30 flights in gliders.
Motor Glider vs. LSA or Private license
Reasons to fly a motor glider vs. light sport aircraft (LSA):
- Fly in a motor glider in a proven, certified airframe with a standard airworthiness certificate – utility category.
- Fly above 10,000 feet MSL – in fact powered or un-powered soaring flight is possible to FL 180 and beyond.
- Fly VFR over the top. Fly even IFR in a motor glider if so equipped and rated.
- Fly in a motor glider with a cruise speed of 120 KTS and above.
- Fly in a motor glider with a GW up to 1698 LBS to lessen the effects of turbulence.
- Glide in a motor glider without a tow plane. Cover long distances as a sailplane engine-off. Go international.
- Fly a motor glider (and glider) even if your medical certificate has been revoked.
- Fly without a medical even if you are not an American resident – no driver’s license needed.
Questions and Answers/FAQS
Q: Can I fly a Motor glider if I hold a Private Pilot SEL Rating?
A: No, you must have a Glider Rating, and a Self-Launch Endorsement.
Q: What if I promise to never shut off the engine-doesn’t that make it an airplane?
A: No, it’s still a Glider, and the above remains true.
Q: Do I need a Medical Certificate to fly a motor glider?
A: No, it’s still a glider, and medical certificates are not required to fly gliders.
Q: Do I need a Self-Launch Endorsement just to fly solo, not carrying passengers?
A: Yes, Training complete and endorsement in the logbook before solo.