Practical Test


To be eligible for a private pilot certificate, 14 CFR 61.103 (e) requires a person pass a practical test on the areas of operation listed in 14 CFR 61.107(b)(6)(i-xi).  These areas of operation are specific to the glider category and correspond directly to the areas of operation found in the Private Pilot Glider Practical Test Standard (PTS), where they are laid out in much greater detail.  The more detailed knowledge and skill requirements specified in the PTS are the basis for your overall private pilot glider training, and appropriately go on to serve as the basis by which you are evaluated on your practical test.


Everything you need to know, everything you need to do, and how well you need to do those things are all contained in the Private Pilot Glider Practical Test Standard.



14 CFR 61.39 specifies the prerequisites for a practical test.  An applicant for an initial private pilot certificate with a glider category rating must:

  1. have passed the required aeronautical knowledge test within the 24 calendar months preceding the practical test
  2. present the knowledge test report at the time of application
  3. have completed the required flight training and obtained the required aeronautical knowledge appropriate to the glider category rating
  4. be at least 16 years old (glider)
  5. have a logbook endorsement from an authorized instructor certifying the applicant
    1. has received and logged training in preparation for the practical test within the preceding 2 calendar months
    2. is prepared for the practical test
    3. has demonstrated satisfactory knowledge of the subject areas found to be deficient on the aeronautical knowledge test
  6. have completed and signed the application form (IACRA)

Practical Test Preparation

A practical test is comprised of an oral examination and a flight-based evaluation.  Your examiner uses the PTS to develop his/her evaluation plan of action.  As such, it makes perfect sense to use the PTS as your preparation guide.


Here are my practical test preparation recommendations:

  1. Perform an overall review of the PTS by reading the entire document.
  2. Review the Applicant’s Checklist and bring all that stuff with you to the test.
  3. For each knowledge-related item (Area of Operation, Task, Objective), imagine the related question(s) and then research and develop your answer(s).  Write your answers down and document their source.
  4. Bring all your documented answers and their source materials with you to the practical test.  This demonstrates your thorough preparation for the test, and your materials can be referenced during the test to help verify your answers.
  5. For each of the required flight maneuvers, document all performance standards (e.g. maintain airspeed within +10/-5 knots).  Then, fly each maneuver, with your instructor, until you are able to consistently perform the maneuver to the required standards.
  6. Use Russ Holtz’s Practical Test Preparation Progress Record


Other Recommendations

During the Oral:

  1. Don’t BS your examiner.  You won’t have the answer to every question, but you should have a pretty good idea of where to find the answer and be able to find it relatively quickly in a source document you had enough sense to bring with you.
  2. Don’t “over-answer” the questions.  Be concise.  If the examiner isn’t satisfied with your answer, he/she will initiate a followup.


In flight:

  1. Clear your airspace before each maneuver; ask the examiner to help clear the airspace.
  2. Maintain situational awareness; know where the airport is at all times.  As you begin and end each maneuver, establish a heading that lets you see the airport.
  3. Verbally draw attention to you own errors and fix them immediately.  It is highly unlikely your examiner missed your transgression.  Let them know you didn’t either.