Then consider Gliding, an air sport in the UK that dates back to the 1920s and since then has become one of the UKs most exhilarating sports in with approximately 2000+ gliders and 10,000 members at 80+ clubs across the country, there’s sure to be one within an hour of you!
Gliding is a very diverse air sport, It can be as exciting and challenging as you want it to be. From flying and soaring in thermal updrafts around the local area to flying long distance across the country at speeds of 100kph, mountain soaring to competitions, aerobatics and vintage aircraft there really is something for all!
You might first of all think that Flying will empty your wallet, but this far from the case and pleasantly surprises people, At most clubs, you’ll expect to spend £15 per hour to fly the glider, around £30 for an aerotow launch and around £7 for a winch launch though quite often clubs will lower these fees even further for under 25s who run Junior Gliding Schemes. Best of all Instruction is free! Bargain right? Especially when you consider it can cost north of £150 to hire a powered aeroplane for just one hour.
And that’s not all, various bursaries and scholarships are available for pilots of all levels from training to solo to completing your instructor rating.
So how would you go about starting? Well search up your local gliding club and have a chat about starting, see if they have a Junior Gliding Scheme, Gliding is in need of new blood into the sport so you’ll always be welcomed with open arms. If you’ve got your heart set on becoming a glider pilot then perhaps take a trial lesson to try it out, you’ll have the ability to take control of the glider right from the first lesson and see why glider pilots love the sport so much.
Once you start learning you’ll embark on a journey along a strict British Gliding Association learning syllabus which will take you from the first flight right up until becoming a qualified pilot. Your first target will be to go solo, unlike powered flying there isn’t a set amount of hours that this will occur, you will only solo when instructors are certain that you have all the necessary skills to safely take-off, fly and land the glider whilst being able to deal with any emergency that may arise. The more often though you come down quite often the quicker you will solo.
But solo is just the very beginning of the exciting flying, continuing the training syllabus towards the Bronze and Cross-Country endorsements will enable you to make the step into becoming a fully qualified glider pilot and hold the equivalent of the Private Pilot’s Licence. Beyond that you can gain internationally recognized FAI Sporting badges and diplomas to really test your skills!
The advanced training will equip you with the ability to soar accurately in thermals and other types of lift, as well as navigate your way round the country and deal with unusual situations like landing in a farmers field if you happen to find no thermal updrafts or other types of lift to keep you up and get you back home.
From there the door is wide open to flying cross country at speeds of 100kph or more, becoming a gliding instructor and potentially even making a jump onto powered flying which can be as simple as a 10 hour conversion, saving you thousands compared to doing a PPL from scratch.
So what are you waiting for, think you’re up to giving gliding a go? Then check out the British Gliding Association website which is the UKs National Body. They’ll be sure point you in the right direction. www.gliding.co.uk
See you in the skies!