Beginning XC Session 1 – Intro to Condor XC (2-3 Hours)

Lesson Plan:

Objective: Assist student with Condor setup, introduce concepts of pitch and bank angle control via glareshield, introduce fundamentals of cross-country decision-making

Discussion Topics:

  • Condor Setup
  • Thermalling efficiently – pitch and bank angle control, thermal centering


  • Cross-country flying concepts
  • Cross-country safety considerations


  • Discus 2 Glareshield
  • Condor PDA

Completion Standards:

  • Ability to thermal with attention to pitch and bank angle control using the glareshield
  • Ability to use Condor PDA screen 1 (moving map), screen 3 (Final Glide), and screen 4 (wind/bread-crumb)

Required Resources:

  • Slovenia Scenery (available by default)
  • Plane Pack 1 (required for Discus 2 glider)

Condor Settings:

  • Water ballast: None
  • C/G Bias: -1.6″

Lesson Files:

Condor Familiarization (1 hour)

The instructor works with the student to ensure that the student’s setup is
current (up to date version/patch level), the appropriate sceneries are
available, and the rest of the student’s Condor environment is suitable. See Condor Setup for details

Pitch and Bank Angle Control Using the Discus 2 Glareshield (15-30 min)

The Schempp-Hirth Discus 2 glider with it’s distinctive angular instrument panel glareshield, makes accurate pitch and bank angle control much easier.  See Pitch and Bank Angle Control Using the Discus 2 Glareshield for more details

Flatland Task (1-2 hours)

I normally start out in the flatlands in the northeast corner of the Slovenia scenery at Murska Sobota with a 50-75 mile triangle task. The Slovenia scenery is included with the initial Condor installation, so it’s always available. This area is almost completely flat, with just a few low hills to make it visually interesting. The idea for this first task is to gently expose the student to XC flying, with emphasis on proper thermalling technique using the Discus 2 glareshield. The flight is planned for about 90 minutes, although I will suggest terminating a flight early if I see that the student is getting tired (flying in Condor can be just as tiring to a new student as flying in RL – I’ve even had a student rip their joystick off its plywood mount!).  Later flights can be extended as necessary to accommodate greater skill levels. Note that in Condor-land, there is no need to return to the takeoff point, or even return to the ground – the flight can be terminated in mid-air just as easily as anywhere else. In my experience so far, 3 hours is about as much as a student can handle, with about half the time devoted to pre and post-flight briefing, and about half actually on task. Because the first 1- 1.5 hours of this session is devoted to basic Condor setup/familiarization, the task length has been reduced considerably.

At least 30 minutes should be allotted for post-flight Q & A and debriefing.  In particular, the instructor should ask the student if this is what the student is after – no use proceeding with additional Condor training if it is going in the wrong direction!

Other Notes:

It is not at all uncommon for students to have difficulty with basic thermalling skills in this first session.  Many students don’t have a lot of real life (RL) experience to start with, and often have little or no experience in Condor.  The combination of weak RL skills and the view limitations imposed by the Condor simulator can make thermalling quite challenging at first.  The good news is, once this is identified, future sessions and offline practice assignments can effectively address the issue.

Don’t be shy about recommending that the student use ‘thermal helpers’ (the ‘H’ key by default).  Many students are reluctant to do this because it isn’t available in RL, but visible thermals can help students acquire a mental image of thermal structure that they can then use in RL.

See Also:



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