What is Gliding...
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What is Gliding?
Put simply, gliding is the art of flying an aircraft without an engine. To achieve this the pilot must find areas of rising air, allowing the glider to climb and extend the flight time. At Trent Valley Gliding Club the gliders are launched by either winch or aerotow.
Our Supercat Winch is a purpose built launching device purchased with the aid of a lottery grant. It is capable of launching gliders to between 1200 and 1500 feet on an regular basis.
The Piper Pawnee is a converted crop spray that can launch gliders to any height and location desired. It is also used for retrieving gilders from nearby airfields.
As for soaring, around North Lincolnshire thermals are the most common source of lift. The rich agricultural land often heats up and creates a column of rising air with a cumulus cloud at the top. By flying the glider in these pockets of rising air and avoiding the sinking air - so the glider can stay airbourne for many hours.
On a cross country flight a pilot will move from one column of rising air to another along the route being flown. In this manner pilots regularly achieve distances of over 500km at speeds of around 80 to 100 km/h. Should the glider run out of height and be forced to land then they select a suitable field and land in it. It can then be disassembled and returned back to the airfield in a trailer.
Wave is another source of lift for gliders. Wind that has blown across the Pennines starts an occillating effect that occasionally continues as far as North Lincolnshire. It is apparent due to the distinctive lenticular clouds that are produced. Gliders that can get established in the rising air have been known to get to over 20,000 feet in the UK.
Learning how to glide
Learning to fly a glider could not be easier. There are several thousand qualified glider pilots in the UK ranging from fourteen year-olds to people of over eighty. The skill level required is similar to being able to drive a car (though the actual skills are very different) so most people could learn if they wished. Inevitably, some people will have greater aptitude than others but most trainees can achieve solo status, providing that they persevere and practise regularly. Pupils fly with an instructor and practice all the skills required to fly solo. Once they have mastered all the skills required a senior instructor will allow them to fly by themselves.
Obviously, the time taken to achieve solo status varies from candidate to candidate, but generally the number of launches required increases with the age of the pupil. This does not mean that younger people make better pilots, merely that they tend to pick up new skills quicker. As a guide, a complete beginner aged around 50 should allow for between 80 and 120 launches (by winch) before going solo.
The sky literally is the limit! Going solo is just the starting point – our pilots regularly undertake long distance cross country flights, compete in gliding competitions and practice glider aerobatics, all under the expert guidance of our instructor team. Gliding qualifications are known as badges and mark a wide range of skill and attainment levels, including distances, endurance and height gains. A number of members also own their gliders – either individually or as part of a syndicate, though the club also has single-seaters available for use by solo pilots.
Gliding is also a very social sport and after a fun day on the airfield members often relax in the club house with a beer or soft drink, attend our frequent social events or participate in a barbeque. Many make a weekend of flying and stop in caravans or tents on the airfield.