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Earning Your Silver Badge

So you want to earn your Silver Badge, eh?


Well let me tell you, the flying is the EASY part!  If you want to earn this badge, you are going to have to brave some paperwork and arcane bureaucracy - so make sure your belts are tight and your teeth are gritted.

I hope that the advice in this little column will help you avoid much of the hassles I had when I went through this process.  The biggest thing to remember is that the paperwork rules over all.  You see, the SSA officials in charge of the Badge process do not view the flight as the accomplishment, or the thing that the paperwork supports.  They view the paperwork as the most important thing - the flight is just a supporting bit in their eyes!  If you screw up the paperwork, you must usually start from scratch and re-fly the task; simply submitting corrected paperwork will not suffice.  So it is critically important to plan and double-check your paperwork and your Badge Submission before you fly! 

I will devote the rest of this blog post to the paperwork & submitted-materials aspect.   Then we'll discuss actually planning and flying your Silver Distance task in my next post...

The SSA has their established processes (which they will not deviate from) and the FAI has its Sporting Code rules - which are interpreted literally and are not viewed with any sort of flexibility by the SSA processing staff.  Many of the FAI rules and SSA processes were devised in the early-to-mid 1900's and have not been truly brought into the modern digital age, so be aware.  Here are a few rules and limitations that surprised me:

  • 1. Every form must be on paper. In fact, some of the forms must be on a "single sheet" of paper according to the FAI!! Xerox copies and computer print-outs are allowed; but for some funny reason you can not email your submission to the SSA (in PDF format or something similar), and have them print it out there. You must get it in hard-copy and then mail it via USPS to the SSA.
  • 2. Electronic items (such as your IGC file and validation DLLs) must be on a Floppy disc. Or a CD that you have burned. But memory-sticks, SD cards, or USB "thumb drive" devices are not accepted.
  • 3. The SSA address is a P.O. Box, so you must use the USPS to mail your documents and CD to them.
  • 4. The SSA Badge Lady does not work at the Hobbs office, but you cannot mail them to her directly. You must snail-mail them to the SSA PO Box and the SSA will forward them on to her in a bundle, once every couple of weeks. There is no guarantee when your materials will be processed, even if you mail them via Priority or Express mail.
  • 5. Be sure to have your Official Observer sign and date and timestamp every spot on the forms where he/she needs to do so. The SSA folks are looking for evidence that all the forms were filled out as much as possible before takeoff (especially the Flight Declaration).

When you've completed your Badge flight, here are the Items and Materials you need to submit -




Flight Declaration:




(refer to the SSA/FAI rules on when the logger has to be calibrated)



                The IGC File

                The IGC Validation tool (DLL) for your Flight Recorder/Logger

                Any other supporting documentation you think is important


Make sure to test this CD in a couple of different computers after you burn it, to make sure that the SSA officials will be able to read it!





Posted: 5/14/2009 By: Noel Wade

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