If I recall, in America there were several "Prohibited Access" airspaces and others required permission, via radio, to enter in a typical aircraft. But, what if I'm gliding over a restricted airspace? (Say, over the Capitol?). Would I be shot down (or fined, sued, etc.)?


Since gliders have no engines, they are often permitted to operate under special agreements called Letters of Authorization, which permit them to operate where other aircraft may not. These agreements may permit them to fly VFR in Class A airspace to capture mountain wave lift, through TFRs, through Restricted airspace, depending on the terms of the agreement with the FAA.

In particular, in the airspace you mention near the Capitol, there is a TFR Waiver in force which permits gliders to operate within the Capitol TFRs. This Waiver supersedes the TFR rules and the associated NOTAMs. Furthermore, it permits gliders to even thermal inside the TFR if necessary for safety of flight.

  • $\begingroup$ The waiver info you linked to is for a TFR which is in force around Camp David during presidential retreats, not the U.S. Capitol. $\endgroup$ – pericynthion Sep 22 '15 at 0:00
  • $\begingroup$ That TFR is part of a set of TFRs commonly known as the Capitol TFRs $\endgroup$ – rbp Sep 22 '15 at 0:01
  • $\begingroup$ Sure, but it doesn't permit flight over the Capitol as in the example the OP gave. I'd be surprised if there were any waivers that allowed gliders into the FRZ. $\endgroup$ – pericynthion Sep 22 '15 at 0:03
  • $\begingroup$ I addressed his question regarding 'gliding over restricted airspace'. $\endgroup$ – rbp Jan 6 '16 at 16:57

As Inafziger has already said, there is no difference between a glider and a conventional airplane.

However it is possible to fly with both types of airplanes into all kinds of airspaces, if ATC granted the entry. In 99 per cent of the times they will require a transponder though, which only a few gliders have. (I think most aerobatic gliders have one)

  • $\begingroup$ I wouldn't assume that aircraft can fly into any airspace just because ATC said it was okay. See: Can you bust a TFR while operating IFR?. You are correct though that you can often enter restricted airspace if you follow their terms. $\endgroup$ – Lnafziger Jan 7 '14 at 14:32
  • $\begingroup$ If the controller explicitly grants you the right to fly through this airspace, I would be very surprised if you can actually be charged for that. But I would not want to try flying into a TFR either way. $\endgroup$ – Force Jan 7 '14 at 16:57
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Well, asking won´t hurt - I´ve come across several cases where after a nice chat with ATC crossing of restricted airspace was granted even in a glider without transponder. $\endgroup$ – yankeekilo Jan 7 '14 at 18:13
  • $\begingroup$ @Force Take a look at the link in the question that ibreferenced in my previous comment. It can (and has) happened. $\endgroup$ – Lnafziger Jan 7 '14 at 18:58
  • $\begingroup$ I think @Force wouldn't be with ATC with his glider unless he wants to make sure if an airspace is hot or if he can pass through. If you get the info by ATC that you can make your way through this airspace you are on the safe side. It's something different if you just set up a flight following and did not ask for the particular airspace. They will probably warn you prior violating an airspce or TFR but that's not for sure. Remember that it's a voluntary service and most of the controlleers are busy. $\endgroup$ – Falk Jan 7 '14 at 23:51

It doesn't matter what category of aircraft that you are flying, the rules for restricted and prohibited airspace applies the same unless there is a specific exemption in a NOTAM for that, which I haven't seen before.

  • $\begingroup$ Although this answer is correct, all it basically says is "the rules are the rules." All glider pilots know, however, that Letters of Authorization and Waivers provide gliders across the US access to airspace that would are not normally be accessible to other aircraft. Please see my answer below for a fuller explaination. $\endgroup$ – rbp Dec 8 '14 at 18:49

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