Gliding

An experience

like no other

What is gliding

Imagine you’re a falcon. You effortlessly ride the airwaves, circling upwards in the thermals, just flicking a wing feather every now and again to change direction. For we mere humans, the closest approximation of flying like a bird is the sport of gliding. The motorless aircraft, called gliders (or more accurately sailplanes) provide the experience of flying without distracting engine noise, and allow for wonderful views of the countryside below. Reading the weather provides a real mental challenge for glider pilots, and yes, they sometimes do watch the birds for clues.

Launch by winch

After the pre-flight checks are done, the glider is hooked to a cable. When the launch marshal shouts “All Out All Out”, you will quickly accelerate away on the start of your flight. Once the glider reaches flying speed it will lift off the ground and climb away to the top of the launch

Thermals

Thermals are the result of warm air from the earth escaping into the colder skies above. When you see birds circling high above you, they are taking a free lift from a thermal. At the top there will often be a large fluffy white cloud with a flat bottom. Think of a hot summer’s day with blue skies and you’re probably picturing the right sort of cloud. If you’re anywhere near a gliding airfield, there may well be some large-winged sailplane circling up under the clouds.

Wave

Wave can be King of the Skies for providing strong, steady lift. It’s easiest to imagine if you consider the analogy of a stone in the middle of a river. As the water flows over the stone, standing waves form down stream. A similar thing happens to moving air as it hits mountains and hilltops sticking up into the atmosphere. Standing waves occur which can be seen in the sky in the form of lens-shaped clouds, lying still across the direction of the wind instead of moving with it. The stronger the wind, the bigger the waves and the faster they lift lucky glider pilots up, up and away.

Ridge lift

Ridge lift is caused by a hillside getting in the way of a steady flow of air. When the air stream reaches the hillside, there’s nowhere to go but up. Pilots can then fly quite happily above the ridge, supported by all that rising air. With a favourable wind, you can fly back and forth for hours if you really want to.

How we land

After the final turn onto approach your instructor will open the air brakes which help’s the glider descend more quickly towards the landing area.

As you approach the landing area the instructor will level the glider so it fly’s just above the ground until the speed slows and the glider lands onto the ground.