The sport of gliding is an exhilarating, spectacular yet serene flying experience. Gliders take to the air like birds with wings outstretched, soaring on rising air currents, immersed in three dimensional space and flying silently with an eagle’s view of the world.
Gliding is for all ages, men and women of all ages fly gliders. In Australia you can fly solo from the age of 15 and some pilots continue gliding into their eighties. It is never too late to learn to glide and many pilots take up the sport in their 40s 50s or even 70s.
But be warned. Whether you have your first flight when you are young or old, you may be so moved by the experience that you are quickly taken by the gliding bug and find yourself forever looking skyward in anticipation of your next flight.
To try gliding find the club nearest to and call them to arrange a flight.
How much does gliding cost?
Costs vary from club to club. Some offer a full commercial service and are priced accordingly whilst others operate under a very strong club atmosphere to keep costs down. A trial lesson with a typical club costs from around $250-300.
Annual club membership including membership a local club is around $200- $00 and of the Gliding Federation of Australia (GFA) is Adult membership 12 months for $320 Junior Membership 12 months for $166.
Once you are a club member you simply pay as you go. Glider time is charged by the minute; cost per minute varies from $1 - 2 . Some clubs even offer a reducing rate for each subsequent hour of flight to encourage cross country flights (More on this later).
Download a copy of the Guide to Gliding
Gliding can be enjoyed at your own pace to suit your lifestyle, budget and the amount of time that you have available. As a glider pilot you will be part of an Australian and worldwide club-based community which offers support, advice and training. There are gliding clubs around the country from coastal fringes to the Alps and the Great Dividing Range, as well as the magnificent inland plains of Australia.
Along the way you are sure to make new friends who share your new found passion for silent flight and the unique experience of flying in graceful and sophisticated aircraft.
Once you have learned the basics of soaring and have the skill to safely fly a glider, your instructor will send you solo. Then you can relax on a quiet local flight, on your own or in a two-seater glider with another glider pilot or friend.
Develop your skills
You can continue to develop your skills further to experience the thrills of soaring across the countryside, or the excitement of aerobatics. For those with a competitive spirit there are many regional and international racing competitions where you will meet the top glider pilots, coaches and fellow competitors in an intense and friendly learning experience.
The first gliders were made well over 100 years ago - before the Wright Brothers pioneered powered flight - out of wood and cloth. Today gliders are manufactured with hi-tech composite materials designed using the latest aerodynamic modelling techniques. They are comfortable to sit in, easy to fly and have similar in-flight instruments to powered aircraft,
Gliders fly at speeds of up to 300kph and can cover distances of over 1,000km in a flying day. Altitudes of over 40,000ft have been achieved. On a good cross country flying day in Australia you could expect to fly a triangular course of 300 to 500km at a heights of 6,000 to 10,000ft using satellite navigation (GPS) to accurately guide you on your journey and back to your home airfield for landing.
Looking after gliders requires some specialized engineering skills that many pilots enjoy learning, adding another dimension to the sport. You can also learn to be a gliding instructor and if you have a powered licence, fly the tug planes. Gliding is a great way to pursue an interest in meteorology, navigation and many other aspects of aviation.
For all types of pilots
Glider pilots come from all work backgrounds. Many pilots from commercial aviation, hang gliding, paragliding, RA and general aviation gravitate towards gliding as the most satisfying form of flight.
Gliding will bring you into contact with people from all walks of life in a co-operative social atmosphere. For many people, the social aspects and camaraderie of the sport are among its greatest attractions.
Explore the world from a bird’s eye view while enjoying the safe and challenging sport of gliding.