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Gliding, flights and lessons nationwide

    • Gliding out of Bicester Aerodrome in Oxfordshire
    • One of the largest grass runways in Europe
    • Aerotows or motor glide flights offered
    • Highly experienced instructors & friendly club
    • Voucher valid for glider clubs around the country
    • Enjoy the thrills of silent flight for 15 minutes
    • Have a go at the controls during your flight
    • An explanation of glider flight included
    • Glider flights out of Long Marston airfield
    • Take to the skies in a self-launching motorglider
    • Glider has side by side configuration not tandem
    • You could fly over Stratford & Warwick Castle
    • Gliding from Lasham Aerodrome near Alton in Hants
    • An active airfield with several flying companies
    • A large club with several hundred members
    • Club has a fleet of 12 two seater trainer gliders
    • Gliding from Talgarth Airfield in Powys, Wales
    • Aerials of the beautiful Brecon Beacons National Park
    • Area is renowned for impressive thermals
    • This Welsh airfield is 970ft above sea level
    • Gliding takes place near Dunstable
    • Proactive gliding club with passionate members
    • Three month club membership with all experiences
    • All flights are by aerotow in tandem gliders
    • Gliders at Wycombe Air Park formerly RAF Booker
    • Large fleet of sailplanes make up this active club
    • Good range of flight durations available
    • Delightful on site restaurant & bar for spectators
    • Gliding club at Brentor Airfield near Tavistock
    • Stunning views of Dartmoor as you glide
    • Day course gives you a total of six flights
    • A friendly, professional set up in South Devon
    • Small & friendly club full of enthusiasm
    • Winch tows and launch by tug plane offered
    • Gliding on weekends & bank holidays in summer
    • Minimum age for gliding here in Corby is 12yrs old
    • Glide gracefully over North Devon
    • Be towed up to 2000ft before being released
    • Experience the wonders of silent flight in the summer
    • Gliding from Eaglescott Airfield near Umberleigh
    • Glider flying at Ridgewell Airfield in Essex
    • Lessons based on soar time over 1 or more flights
    • A small, close-knit team of instructors & members
    • It's gliders only (& the tug!) at this airfield
    • Gliding at Saltby Airfield near Grantham, Lincs
    • See the Lincolnshire countryside from the air
    • Winch, aerotow & motorised glider flights offered
    • One day glider experience ideal for budding pilots
    • Go gliding from Crowland Airfield nr Peteborough
    • Various release heights offered inc one mile high!
    • Day course teaches you rigging & launching etc
    • Subject to weather, flying offered all year round
    • Founded in 1930, it's one of the oldest UK clubs
    • Dynamic club with over 150 active members
    • Gliding from nr Ashford over the Kentish Downs
    • Excellent clubhouse with food, rooms and camping
    • Winch launches to get you airborne in North Wales
    • Soar over scenic Llandegla Hills on your lesson
    • Perfect choice for 'making a weekend' of it
    • Enjoy 1 x long cruise or 3 x shorter flights
    • Our only gliding school within the M25
    • Learn at Kenley Airfield in Surrey, nr Croydon
    • Weekday flying lessons offered all year round
    • Friends & family welcome to watch the action
    • Soar away from Bidford Airfield in Warwickshire
    • Glide over the Vale of Evesham
    • Choose your launch height
    • Just sightsee in the air or pilot the glider

How do gliders actually fly?

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 and then into the air, before the cable is released.

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 for your lesson.

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.

In search of ‘lift’ in your glider

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. 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.

Take a look at our video of gliding over the Black Mountains to get a taste of that sensation of ‘ridge lift’!

Try a self-powered motor glider

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!