One question that everyone asks is 'If there's no engine, how does a glider fly?’ Well, without giving you a long-winded physics lesson the answer is quite simply - the wings! The compact fuselage combined with the large wingspan gets these graceful planes up in the air.
Of course, you'll need a little bit of help to launch and there are basically three methods for that. First is the winch launch. The ground crew will hook you up to the metal cable with the other end attached to the winching machine around 1000 yards away. As the machine whirrs into life, it takes up the slack and then starts to pull you over the ground.
The second method is called the aerotow. This is quite cool, as it involves a tug plane towing you up into the air. It's quite exciting as you'll be behind the light aircraft and the advantage here is that you can be released at a higher altitude.
In both cases it's quite a noisy and a bumpy ride (and in fact you can reach speeds of up to 60mph for take off!) but then you'll rise gently into the air and keep ascending until reach your launch ceiling height and your pilot instructor releases the cable.
After that, it's a simple case of 'what goes up must come down'. As gliders only have the forces of lift, drag and weight (there's no thrust as there's no engine), it basically means you are descending the whole time you’re gliding and on these lessons you'll soon learn the holy grail of gliding is ‘lift’.
Seeking lift is what makes it all so thrilling and yet serene at the same time. If the pilot finds a pocket of air that's rising faster than you are coming down, that’s uplift and you’ll ascend. Catching 'thermals' (bubbles of warm rising air) gives you lift as you circle round, gaining height - just like birds with their wings stretched out do.
If you have the chance to take a glider flight from an airfield near the mountains (we've got gliding schools on the edge of the Black Mountains in North Wales, for example) you might well be able to experience ridge lift from the air that is forced upwards when it reaches a natural obstacle (like hills) on the landscape.
And we nearly forgot to mention the third method - motor gliding. This is where the sailplane has its own engine so can take off under its own steam as it were. Once at altitude it's time to cut the motor and start soaring. Whichever type of gliding lesson you go for, it's going to be an amazing aerial experience 1000ft off the ground!