Nov 3, 2016
I'm appointed to the class of 22 and there is not too long before the new class gets to I day. After looking at what opportunities I might want to take advantage of at USAFA, I think I want to try to become a soaring IP. I understand there are a few hard reqs. (Taking basic soaring during 3rd class summer, take year-long upgrade during the 3rd class year) but I am curious if anyone else has any opinions, advice, tips, or suggestions with regard to becoming a soaring IP. I am planning on being an engineering major (astro or aero most likely) and I want to fly for the Air Force after graduation. Thanks in advance for all the feedback!


5-Year Member
Mar 8, 2014
Be likeable and competent in your summer course and demonstrate your desire to upgrade. That's basically it


5-Year Member
May 10, 2011
Biggest thing you can do until you get to soaring is get good grades and be a good 4*-to some extent, summer program selection is merit based, so set yourself up for success with a good OPA.

A note with that...if you start to struggle with techie classes, don't feel like you need to be an engineering major to be a pilot. Getting on acpro early and not making significant improvement will severely impact the opportunities you'll have available for the remainder of your time at USAFA. Especially if you want to spend a good chunk of your time at the airfield, pick something you really enjoy for a major.


Feb 18, 2017
@pstine - congratulations on your appointment. Throughout your C4C year, you'll have briefs regarding opportunities, including glider IP, available to cadets and what formal/informal requirements are required for each. In the meantime, I would focus on keeping your Overall Performance average (OPA) as high as possible (the OPA is the weighted combination of cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA), cumulative Military Performance Average (MPA), and cumulative Physical Education Average (PEA)).

As c17hopeful indicated, your performance in Armnshp 251, the 3-week summer basic soaring course, will have a major impact on IP selection.


5-Year Member
Jan 31, 2015
Hi pstine,

The soaring program is amazing and I highly applaud your desire to participate. To answer your question, there are a few things that are often considered when selecting upgraders:

1. As others have mentioned, GPA/MPA/PEA/OPA are important and have minimum cutoffs. OPA also determines to some degree who gets their first choice of summer program, so a reasonably high OPA is important to get into 251 as well as 461 (upgrade). This means you should strive your best to be a good 4 degree (do well on knowledge tests, follow the rules, etc.), earn good grades, and perform well on fitness tests.
2. If you get into 251, work hard. Do your best to fly well (it is considered), but even more importantly, be a good team player. Be outside pushing planes and helping others launch when you're not flying. IP's will take notice of who works hard when they make their decisions about 461.
3. Be humble and show a good attitude. One of the important things considered is whether or not a potential upgrader would be a good colleague and easy to work with (this factors into the interview as well).
4. Prior flight experience is another factor which may also be taken into consideration. However, prior experience is not necessary to become an IP and there are many soaring IP's who had none before coming to USAFA.

A couple more things--be careful not to get ahead of yourself too much. I am not saying you shouldn't have aspirations coming in (I did), but 4* year is a long road and there will be time later on to think about soaring. I would recommend spending most of your time right now preparing for I-day and BCT.

Additionally, all 4*s take an introductory glider program called AM-250 at some point during the school year. You will get four flights in a glider, including one aerobatic flight. This is a great time to ask the IP's themselves about airmanship, summer soaring, upgrade, etc., and also see for yourself whether or not you enjoy flying. So in other words, you will have a chance to try flying a glider regardless of whether or not you become an IP. :thumb:

Good luck to you.