About the Course

Prerequisites: None
Approximate Time to Complete: 4 hours

Weather patterns on Earth are complicated and seemingly chaotic. Weather is a result of the atmosphere's constant attempt to reach equilibrium. This equilibrium is continually upset by uneven solar heating of the Earth's surface caused by cloud cover, the uneven distribution of land and water, and the Earth's tilt and rotation, among other factors.

As glider pilots, we are dependent on the weather. As long as it isn't raining or too windy, or the clouds aren't too low, we can glide. But to soar, that is, to be able to stay aloft and climb, we must be able to find rising air, which we call “lift".

The three main types of lift are thermal, ridge, and mountain wave. Thermals are warm air masses that rise because they are less dense than the surrounding air. Ridge lift results when wind is forced up by a ridge. Mountain wave lift is created when winds aloft interact with low-level winds that have been displaced by a mountain.

The weather can also create hazards for the glider pilot. Certain weather events can damage or destroy a glider, in the air or on the ground. Often, the very conditions that create good lift also can create hazards. In this course, you will learn about the forces that create the weather so that you will be able to predict good soaring days, and to avoid dangerous conditions.

Purchase of this course entitles you to one year of access to the course material.

Please Note: This course is designed for use by a single individual. It is against the Terms of Use to share this course, in part or whole, with other users, or to teach others using the content from this course. The time and effort that goes into the development of these courses is immense. To ensure that we will be able to offer more courses, we need to collect a fee from every student who takes a course. Thank you for supporting our effort!

About the Course

Course Curriculum

  • 1
  • 2
    The Atmosphere
    • Section Overview
    • Video
    • Quiz 1 & Instructions
  • 3
    Atmospheric Stability
    • Section Overview
    • Video
    • Quiz 2 & Instructions
  • 4
    Clouds, Fog & Precipitation
    • Section Overview
    • Video
    • Quiz 3 & Instructions
  • 5
    Weather Systems
    • Section Overview
    • Video
    • Quiz 4 & Instructions
  • 6
    Describing the Weather
    • Section Overview
    • Video
    • Weather Links
    • Quiz 5 & Instructions
  • 7
    • Section Overview
    • Video
    • Downburst Link
    • Lightning Safety
    • Quiz 6 & Instructions
  • 8
    Conditions for Soaring
    • Section Overview
    • Video
    • Quiz 7 & Instructions
  • 9
    Final Test
    • Final Test & Instructions

  About the Instructor

  • Russell Holtz

    Russell Holtz

    Russell is the author of two well-respected and widely-used soaring flight training books in the United States - the Glider Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge and the Flight Training Manual for Glider Pilots.

    Russell grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering.

    He obtained his Private Pilot Certificate in gliders in 1995, in airplanes in 1996, his Commercial Certificate in Gliders in 1998, and his Certified Flight Instructor rating in gliders in 1999. He completed the FAI Silver Badge requirements in 1997, and the Gold and Diamond requirements in 1998. Russell has given over 2,800 hours of primary, cross-country, contest, and aerobatic flight instruction, and has over 4,000 hours total time in gliders.

    Russell's passion for understanding and communicating soaring knowledge is evident in his teaching.