I'm currently working on my Commercial Glider rating and for the written, I am using a popular test prep package. The package allows the specific selection of Commercial Glider (vs Airplane, Helicopter, etc.) Indeed, their glider question bank has 639 questions, whereas the Airplane and Helicopter question banks have 881 and 727 questions respectively.

So I was surprised to be presented with several questions that I wouldn't have expected glider only pilots to have to know. For example:

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I am also a PPSEL, so I was able to answer this, but I've never come across a glider with a VOR installed, and I frankly am not sure how useful one would be.

I was even more surprised to find this question:

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Why would this be on any Commercial written test (let alone the Glider commercial?). An instrument rating is NOT required for any commercial rating AFAIK, and certainly not for a Glider commercial rating.

So my question is, is this just a mistake in the test prep software, or are these types of questions actually on the Glider Commercial written test?

  • $\begingroup$ As for "Why would this be on any Commercial written test", the FAA commercial ratings for powered aircraft (airplanes, helicopters, gyros, powered lift vehicles, and airships) do not require instrument ratings but they do require a certain amount of instrument training. For gliders I agree it doesn't make much sense. $\endgroup$
    – Brian
    Commented Jul 8, 2019 at 18:58
  • $\begingroup$ @Brian: Even if you're looking to fly an IMC-certificated glider? $\endgroup$
    – Vikki
    Commented Jul 10, 2019 at 1:06
  • $\begingroup$ I wasn't aware there was such a thing. That said, wouldn't you need an instrument rating to fly in IMC? My question is really two pronged, 1) Why on a commercial test (for any category) as opposed to a Instrument rating test and 2) Why on a glider test. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 10, 2019 at 19:34

2 Answers 2


Well, now that I've taken (and passed) the test, I feel somewhat qualified to answer my own question.

The first question, The VOR CDI indication deflection question, was indeed on the test. There was also a question on VOR receiver checks "from a designated checkpoint on the airport surface".

The second (IFR) question was NOT on the test.

Of course, the test has 100 questions and the question bank is reported to have > 600 questions, so there is no garuntee that it couldn't be on the someone else's test. IOW, YMMV.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Interesting. Well, the main thing to know about flying gliders in IMC is that the yaw string might freeze to the canopy as the canopy ices up, so it's good to have a slip-skid ball on the panel. Now, how would I possibly know that? :) $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 8, 2019 at 18:59
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Thanks for coming back to answer your question! $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jul 8, 2019 at 19:28
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Congratulations on passing your test! $\endgroup$
    – Someone
    Commented Apr 28, 2023 at 15:18

There are various types of aircraft that qualify as gliders. I've seen them with no engine, sustainer engines of various types, self-launch capability and even with large turboprop engines. (A little trivia -- the FAA does not define what is a glider in the experimental category...) Gliders also come equipped with various equipment, from the basics of VFR to full IMC instrumentation and avionics.

Because of this you can find "gliders" quite capable of flying VFR and IFR. I am not surprised by the VOR question.

IMO, you have a valid point in the second part of your question. The only explanation I can think of is that the FAA apparently does not remove questions from the commercial pilot plain vanilla database for the other exams, but rather adds questions related to gliders, for example, and requires that the test include a certain number or percentage of questions from that group. Also, the FAA doesn't have a commercial pilot instrument rating test. That said, neither of these are explanations for what you have pointed out.


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