article 4a. revision date 08.04.07

About Gliding and Glider Trial Lessons

Although we humans have been getting airborne without engine power for far longer than we have with it, the majority of 21st century eyes still view gliding as the most magical of all forms of manned flight. Perhaps it's the fact that we can fly without an engine in complete safety that provokes this sense of wonder.

Not all gliders lack an engine, some have petrol or electric motors fitted which allow them to self launch and in some cases maintain powered flight in the conventional manner. However, the trial lesson vouchers included in this website cover traditional glider designs that are launched using either the winch launch or aerotow method.


The airframes of modern gliders are constructed from variety of materials including wood, fabric and carbon fibre composite components. However, many UK gliding clubs, much like their light aircraft aviation counterparts, lovingly maintain and fly vintage glider designs. Therefore, if you wish to continue learning how to glide after your trial lesson it's possible that you will have the opportunity to fly in a vintage model or perhaps enjoy long distance flights in a motor glider.

Making the Magic Last.

In addition to the practice of smoothly controlled and safe flight a glider pilot's airmanship is demonstrated by their ability to use rising air currents to gain height and sustain the flight for as long as possible. There are three principal sources of rising air that can provide sufficient lift for the glider to climb.

  • Wave Lift

    When the wind passes over a hill or mountain it descends on the lee side. Wave lift is generated when the descending air with it's associated changes in pressure and temperature effectively bounces off the ground and rises.

  • Ridge Lift

    Ridge (or hill) lift is formed when wind encounters an obstacle such as a hillside and is blown upwards. Glider pilots flying low to the top of the ridge benefit the most from this type of uplift and easily maintain height especially when following long stretches of hillside.

  • Thermal Lift

    Thermals are created when air heated by contact with a warm ground area becomes less dense and rises. Cooling again as it rises this air mass typically forms Cumulus clouds. It is these clouds that the glider pilot looks out for and will circle beneath climb and then sore to another nearby thermal.

Taking Control

As with all trial lessons the student will have the opportunity to try the controls and perform many of the flight maneuvers for themselves. In addition, they will be able to log the flight should they opt to continue studying for a British Gliding Association pilot qualification certificate.

Many Gliding clubs operate all year round but some operate on a seasonal or weekday or weekend only basis. Please contact us if you require additional information.

Gliding is suitable for people of all ages and it's not unusual for students to take their first solo on their 16th birthday. However, we do recommend that you check our voucher restrictions section to confirm that gliding is suitable for the voucher recipient.