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Glider Written Test or Private Pilot Written Test? Which one should I take first?

Posted by on June 18, 2008 6 Comments Category : Flight Instructor Blog Tags : ,

This question comes from John:

My 17 year old son, who last summer was working on his glider license, is now thinking about his private pilot airplane certificate. He didn’t get his glider certificate yet because he hasn’t taken the written knowledge test. Should he take the written for the glider first, or should he get his private pilot airplane and then get a glider add on?

Thanks John for your question.

My recommendation would be to go ahead have your son get his private pilot single engine AIRPLANE first before the glider. The reason? If you have a private pilot airplane certificate you DO NOT need to take the a written knowledge test for the glider add-on. However, if you have a private pilot glider certificate you will have to take an additional knowledge test for the private pilot single engine airplane. So if you get the airplane certificate first you will only need your son to study for one test, not two.

Hopefully this helps and tell your son to…

Fly Safe!


  1. Sarah on Jun 19, 2008


    Doesn’t it depend on what kind of flying his son wants to do right now? In my humble opinion, the glider written is pretty easy.. and would be good prep. for the oral test, which is required.

  2. instructor on Jun 19, 2008

    Sarah, your right. It does depend on what kind of flying he wants to do. I’m actually a little closer to this situation so I understand what’s going on here.

    He took glider lessons last year when he was 16 but his goal has always been to get his airplane SEL and eventually instrument, commercial, etc. Once he gets his ASEL, he will go back and get his glider addon.

    My point was bascially, if he gets his ASEL first he’ll only have to take 1 written test instead of 2.

    Thanks for the comment! I love getting comments on this site. Even if they don’t agree!

  3. Marc on Mar 06, 2010


    Does this apply for both private pilot and recreational pilots license, that there would be no written test for a glider add on?

  4. Sean on Sep 12, 2010

    If you take and pass the Private Pilot (single engine airplane) knowledge test, can you apply that test as a part of the requirements for your Glider practical exam?

  5. Richard on Jan 29, 2011

    Having both ratings my feeling is that you’re a better pilot if you learn gliders first. They do make you sharp for situational awareness, engine out procedures (duh!) and understanding how the atmosphere works. But the way the regs are written it’s much easier to do a glider-add on after you get SEL than the other way around. The hours are less and, as noted above, you can skip a written. So he probably should do it that way. Depending on time, cost, and determination, he certainly could be practicing in both as a student, though I’d recommend concentrating on power, especially when he gets to the cross-countries since those take some time and study. Good luck to him!

  6. Dave McConeghey on Jul 16, 2012

    There are several web sites that allow you to take free practice exams. I recommend those for both the glider and the airplane. Since the son here is already 17 he can get the Private Pilot Airplane first then do the add-on glider rating with only an oral and flight test (practical exam). He would not need to take or pay for the official written exam for the glider that way. You can solo a glider or motorglider at age 14. If you are under 17 and want to take friends up in the glider you can take the glider written and practical exam to become a Private Pilot in the Glider at age 16. You can also fly a motorglider or self-launching sailplane at 16. You will then have to take the Airplane Written before you can take the practical exam to get the Airplane rating added to your pilot certificate.

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