They may be winch launched or towed into the air by a tug aircraft. Once at the appropriate altitude the instructor will release the cable leaving you and your instructor free to glide gracefully over the countryside with nothing but the sound of the air passing over the wings.
Some consider gliding flying as the purest form of flying as it uses nothing but the natural energy of the air. Efficient air frame design and the skills of the pilot extract as much energy as possible.
Gliders can fly for hours in the right conditions. Many are also capable of aerobatic flight and the demonstrations of glider aerobatics are spectacular.
One of the many benefits of flying gliders is the reduced cost. With no engine consuming gallons of fuel and less complex air frames to service and maintain gliders offer a less expensive alternative to powered aircraft. The reduced complexity all round enables glider clubs to offer intensive courses that can sometimes result in novice students going solo in their first week of training.
Going the distance
If you’re unfamiliar with gliders you might not be aware of just how far these aircraft can travel without an engine. The uninitiated often assume that gliders, towed or winch launched, have only a few minutes in which to glide about in warm air currents before being forced to look for a place to land. The fact is that they can stay aloft for hundreds of miles and can reach tens of thousands of feet in altitude.
If high powered aircraft are the power boats of the skies then gliders are the yachts relying on wind energy alone.
Glider Flights – Where to go
Anyone can enjoy the experience of a trial flight in a glider and for those with little or no aviation experience it could be the start of a journey into gliding that bypasses powered flight altogether.
Student pilots of light aircraft should try it at least once as it teaches a great deal about the principles of flight. Many people learn to fly on gliders first before switching to powered aircraft.
It’s both interesting and thrilling to hear nothing but the sound of the wind over those wings and the gentle movements of the controls. Give it a go.
- Get immersed in an hour of gliding at the renowned Booker Gliding Club in Marlow, Buckinghamshire. Details…
- Enjoy a gliding taster flight at one of seven locations around England and Wales; Clwyd, Devon, Essex, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, Powys. Details…
- A full day’s gliding course at the Surrey Hills Gliding Club. Details…