The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) defines a glider as a heavier-than-air aircraft that is supported in flight by the dynamic reaction of the air against its lifting surfaces, and whose free flight does not depend on an engine. The term glider is used to designate the rating that can be placed on a pilot certificate once a person successfully completes required glider knowledge and practical tests.
Another widely accepted term used in the industry is sailplane. Soaring refers to the sport of flying sailplanes, which usually includes traveling long distances and remaining aloft for extended periods of time. Gliders were designed and built to provide short flights off a hill down to a landing area. Since their wings provided relatively low lift and high drag, these simple gliders were generally unsuitable for sustained flight using atmospheric lifting forces.