Aerial view of the Reno-Stead Airport taken from an aircraft flying overhead.

Information for pilots and users of Reno-Stead Airport.

Soaring Society of America Convention, Reno, NV Feb 2-4

The Soaring Society of America is holding their Annual Convention in Reno this year. It will be at the Reno/Sparks Convention Center adjacent to the Atlantis Resort and Casino on February 2, 3 and 4.
The entry fee to the convention display floor for non-SSA members is only $20 and gives you access to all of the commercial displays.
It sounds like a great way to learn a little more about Soaring and to see the latest innovations in the field.

                    A SOARING FACT SHEET

The Soaring Safety Foundation is an integral part of the SSA, responsible for safety and training
SSA Affiliates: National Soaring Museum, Collegiate Soaring Association, US Southwest Soaring Museum
SSA Divisions: 1-26, World Class, Vintage, Experimental, Auxiliary-power, Women, Freedom’s Wings
Associated organizations: SSA Foundation, Soaring Safety Foundation
Associated USENET newsgroup: rec.aviation.soaring.  SSA website:
Join the Soaring Society of America. $64/yr ($36/yr under age 23)
For Information:  PO Box 2100, Hobbs NM 88241-2100. (575)392-1177. (575)392-8154 (FAX).
History (see “Wings like Eagles”, P.A. Schweizer, Smithsonian Press; “Flight without Power”, L.B. Barringer, Pitman Pub)

  • Early motorless flying by Cayley (UK, 1853), Montgomery (USA, 1883), Lilienthal (Germany, 1893), Chanute (USA, 1896)
  • Systematic gliding experiments by Wright brothers (1901-03) to build-up time and flying experience.
  • First Intercollegiate Glider Meet held at Harvard College, 5/28-30/1911. Won by Tufts, MIT
  • First real soaring record: 9:45 min duration by Orville Wright at Kitty Hawk NC, 10/24/1911
  • Soaring becomes organized sport at Wasserkuppe, Germany, 1920 (Versailles Treaty outlaws powered flying)
  • First USA National Glider Contest, Elmira NY, 1930. All pre-WWII Nationals held at Elmira
  • Soaring Society of America founded May, 1932, to hold the 3rd National Glider Contest
  • Development phase: 1920-1940 (towing, 20:1 sailplanes, 3 forms of lift, distances to 500 km)
  • Expansion phase: 1960-1980 (SSA goes from 1,000 to 16,000 members, from 1 to 5 Nationals)


Statistics (Lots of people and aircraft dedicated to social, fun, “green” solar-powered flight)

  • FAI-IGC estimates over 150,000 active soaring pilots worldwide, with 80% in Europe
  • FAA records suggest approximately 38,000 glider-rated pilots in USA, SSA has 12,000 members
  • Every cadet entering the United States Air Force Academy begins his or her flight instruction in a glider.
  • USA has about 180 Soaring Clubs, 150 Commercial Operators and soaring businesses
  • Adult costs at typical site: $400 initiation, $40/mo. dues, $30/aerotow, $10/groundtow, $40/hr glider, $40/hr CFI
  • FAA registry shows about 5,000 sailplanes (1,000 trainers, 2,000 contest ships).  Some motorized, Glide Ratios up to 70


Training (see FAA Regulations, FAA “Glider Flying Handbook”.  No power experience or medical certificate needed)

  • Any FAA Certificate may carry a Glider Rating.  Endorsements are Aero-tow, Ground-tow, Motor-launch
  • To go solo: [Student Pilot Certificate, starting from scratch. 1 week-2 months. $800-$2,000]
  • Age 14, speak English, state no medical defects on application, obtain blank Student Certificate
  • Plan on a roughly 30 flight (aero-tow) or 50-flight (ground-tow) training sequence in a two-seater (about ½ if current Airplane pilot)
  • Pass a pre-solo written test on FAA regulations, flight characteristics, operational limitations, gliderport  operations
  • Receive instruction from a CFI-G in all areas listed in FAR 61.87 and be endorsed ready for solo
  • To fly passenger (no compensation): [Private Pilot Certificate, starting from solo. 1 week-2 months. $400-$1,000]
  • Age 16, speak English, state no medical defects on application
  • Have logged 20 flights (10 solo) and 10 hours (2 solo) in gliders (only 3 hr if Airplane pilot), instruction per FAR 61.107 and 61.39
  • Pass the standard FAA Private Pilot—Glider Knowledge Test on topics in FAR 61.105  (waived for Airplane rating holders)
  • Pass a Practical Test (oral and flight) with an FAA Designated Pilot Examiner


Some Achievements (join Neil Armstrong, Paul MacCready, Christopher Reeve, Charles Lindbergh…)

  • SSA A Badge: go solo. B Badge: soar 1/2 hour. C Badge: soar 1 hour, spot-land. Bronze: soar 2×2 hours, off-field landing, cross-country knowledge test
  • FAI-IGC awards international soaring Badges on up to a 1,000 km diploma:
  • Silver C: soar 5 hours, 50 km distance, and gain 1,000 m altitude (6,500 holders in USA)
  • Gold C : soar 5 hours, 300 km distance, and gain 3,000 m altitude (2,500 holders in USA)
  • Diamonds on Badge: 500 km distance, 300 km goal, 5,000 m altitude (1,000 holders in USA)


Some World Records (pilots also race in the several FAI World Championships. See

  • Distance straight out: Steve Fossett, USA. ASH-25. 1,362.7 mi 12/04/04
  • Distance with up to 3 turnpoints:  Klaus Ohlman, GER. Nimbus 4 DM. 1,869.8 mi 01/21/03
  • Altitude, absolute: Steve Fossett, USA. DG-505. 50,722 feet 08/29/06
  • Speed, 100 km triangle: Klaus Ohlman, GER. Nimbus 4 DM. 190 mph. 12/18/06

Some USA National Records (not also World. State records have a Junior category up to age 25.  See

  • Distance straight out: Michael Koerner, CA. Kestrel 19. 903.0 mi 04/19/84
  • Distance, Feminine: Joann Shaw, NM. Nimbus 2. 591.2 mi. 07/02/90