Saturday, July 14, 2012

Badge Flying

Not everyone in the club has been introduced to the FAI/IGC badge system, so here it is.

The highest airsports authority, FAI, has established a set of badges to recognize individual achievement in the sport of soaring. They do other things as well, but most glider pilots I know interact with FAI only through their pursuit of these badges.

In addition to giving you a sense of achievement, a badge can serve as your credentials to enter a competition, and, when you travel, it is recognized internationally as a standard measure of your flying skill. In some countries (e.g. UK) badges are required as part of your authorization to fly or instruct, and in at least one country (Australia), your badge is your license to fly.

Basically, there are three badges: Silver, Gold, and Diamond. (Technically, there are really only two. The official name of the highest one is the "Gold Badge with Diamonds," but the distinction has been lost over the years. Let's call it the Diamond Badge).

Each badge has three requirements, or "legs."

To earn a Silver Badge, you must make a 1000-meter climb, fly for five hours after release, and fly 50 kilometers (measured in a straight line). You can do all three in one flight, or you can space them out over multiple flights. The three legs of the badge are known as "Silver Altitude," "Silver Duration," and "Silver Distance."

In our club, the Silver Badge is considered the graduation diploma of our training program. We will teach you to fly and help you get your Silver Badge, but after that, you're on you own, without formal guidance from the Club. Good luck, and by the way, you should probably be thinking of buying your own glider.

For the Gold Badge, you need to climb 3000 meters, fly for 5 hours (the same duration flight counts for both Silver and Gold), and fly 300 kilometers, in a straight line or a zig-zag.

The Diamond Badge requires a 5000 meter climb, and two distance flights. The first one, a 300 km closed-course trip with pre-declared turnpoints, is called "Diamond Goal." The second one, a 500 km flight in a straight line or a zig-zag, is known as "Diamond Distance."

The approval of a Badge (or Badge leg) is delegated by FAI to the national gliding authority in each country. In our case, it's the Soaring Society of America . SSA processes badge claims for free for its members (and we're all members, right?)

Around here, the Silver Altitude leg can be achieved by climbing in a nice thermal. Greg did this a couple of weeks ago in his first climb off tow. His claim is still pending, so
preliminary congratulations to Greg!

Gold altitude usually requires a wave flight, unless you're a gamer like Tony, who recently climbed to 17000 feet in a thermal in Colorado. His climb was approved, and that completes his Gold Badge, (he did his Gold Distance last season). Congratulations, Tony!

In the Gold Distance category, we've had two claimants recently. Thomas flew his 300 km on the same day that Greg got his Silver Altitude. That claim was approved. Yay, Thomas! Tim got his Gold Distance three days ago, and I'll write more about that later. Tim's flight also qualified as a Diamond Goal flight.

What do you do when you've collected all your badges and are still looking for a challenge? FAI has the answer: you can get a "Diplome" (that's not a misspelling; it's French). Distance Diplomes are awarded for flying truly epic distances, and they are quite prestigious. Congratulations to Evan, who just got his 750 km Diplome, for a flight he did last Spring in Pennsylvania.


Tony said...

I’m monitoring OLC in disbelief. You guys are on fire. Evan—Double checked your take off location ‘cause those altitudes in July look like Nevada soaring. Tim—Congrats but didn’t you score that Gold Badge three years ago? Moshe—Who said Russia’s have tiny legs? Paul & Mike—Nice to see you’ve come out of retirement. Try it more often. Thomas—Demand a correction. My source indicates you got your Gold Badge on June 23rd. But kudos for diligence to the PMSC News Chief Editor who found out about my badge before I did. Matt Drudge look out!

Tim said...

To put Evan's flight in prospective, Evan's 750 km Diplome is ONLY the 25th issued in the USA.

Also, while not an FAI badge the the Lennie Pin for flights above 25,000'(single)should be mentioned. By my count there are 8 PMSC members who have achieved this Pin. PMSC has to be the club with the highest precent of members with a Lennie. Maybe we can get Rick to elaborate on the Lennie as Wave Camp gets closer.

I would also like to acknowledge Rick who is the official observer on most of the PMSC badge flights. He makes sure the tasks are flown and the paper filled out (painlessly) properly. Thanks Rick!

Also, Rick maybe you can blog about PMSC's involvement in State and National soaring records in your spare time.

There are a lot of reasons to be proud of our little club!

PMSC Member said...

Greg's Silver Altitude has been approved.