- How do I find out things about the club, not on the website?
First we suggest you could ask more experienced members.
There is also a “buddy” scheme. (Someone knowledgeable will be allocated depending on your needs) This would be someone experienced within the club, who will guide you through your development as a pilot with us. They will keep you right about how to do or find out things around the club.
- Who do I talk to when I arrive for Instruction on any day?
Our Duty Pilot, Instructors and Tug pilots are on duty on a rota published online and posted on the clubhouse noticeboard. Midweek, in the spring/summer/autumn the full time instructor will be around.
- Can I fly only with one instructor ?
Flying with one instructor can speed up your learning since you “know” each other. But the duty scheme may not permit this- we cant ask our volunteer Instructors to be on duty every weekend. We do encourage flying with more than one instructor during the learning phase, since they may spot areas where some improvement might be needed-we are not all perfect!
- What are the steps I have to complete to learn to fly?
All the tasks and skills necessary to fly solo are listed in your training/progress card, and there will be comments in your log book. Make sure the instructor fills these out immediately after your flight(s) since if the instructor has to fill it in later, some points may be forgotten .
- How we track your progress?
As you progress, these skills and tasks will be “ticked off”- but we will have revision/refresher sessions to make sure the previous lessons have been retained. Instructors will want to review and add to this card and your log book, so make sure both the progress card and log book are with you when you want to go flying. You may lose your turn if you need to fetch it from the clubhouse
- Who teaches me?
All Instructors are qualified by the British Gliding Association, (BGA) using their standard syllabus. Each instructor is subject to annual “quality checks” and periodic refresher training, both locally and by “Regional Examiners” who are themselves periodically “re-rated”. The BGA is an Approved Training Organisation under the European Aviation Safety Authority.
- Is all my training on a glider?
No, we have introduced a motor-glider into the syllabus, and we can use it for much of the syllabus. The only major limitations are that we cannot do aerobatics or spins in it. Since we can re-start the engine at any time, and therefore regain height, we can extend a lesson until the point is learned, or for example, perform a go-around and allow the pupil to attempt another circuit and approach to landing.
We have also converted a retired glider fuselage into a realistic glider simulator, which is now operational. In this we can again teach much of the syllabus, and repeat teaching points as necessary, without extra flights. Both these are example of us trying to improve the “customer experience”, reduce the time to solo, and produce a better trained pilot at the end. It also means we can train after dark, or in bad weather.
- Can I book lessons?
From May to October, when the full time instructor is on-site, you can make reservations, Monday to Friday via “Wannafly” the on line app, or calling the office. Weekends use Wannafly too, all year round. We can use Wannafly for midweek flying when the full time staff are not on site
- How long will it take to go solo?
It depends on the individual’s learning rate, age, the weather, how frequently you fly, etc. Plan for at least 40 to 60 flights. There is more to flying solo than just gaining the mechanical skills needed, and we will not send you solo until both we and you are confident that you know the procedures, fly sensibly and safely, and can cope with possible emergencies.
We will therefore do practise “Cable breaks”, stalls, spins, under-shooting and over-shooting approaches, recovery from being out of position on aerotow, or in flight, before you fly solo.
- How old can I be?
You can learn to fly at any age, provided you are not too tall or heavy, but we find that children under 10 are neither physically big enough, nor mature enough to take instruction. Legally you must be 14 to go solo. One club member went solo on the morning of her 14th birthday- many others in the months after that birthday.
- What happens after I go solo?
First we will train you for the LAPL(S) Light aircraft pilots licence (Sailplanes) or SPL (Sailplane Pilots Licence,. This would be the minimum standard at which we could permit you to fly with family or friends as clubs guests, rather than just solo. These are internationally recognised awards, and we run classes (Saturday afternoons over winter) at no charge to prepare you for both the flying tests and associated exams.
There is also the Bronze C badge, broadly equivalent to the EASA licences above.
- After that?
Beyond that we have are awards for duration of a soaring flight, the longest being 5 hours which is part of both the Silver and Gold badges- you only need do it once.
- Can I fly away from the airfield?
Other parts of the Silver badge include a cross country flight, where you must glide more than 50km from the point of release from the towplane, and either “land-out” or fly home- A club supplied recorder will record your position, and this recorder is also used for the Silver Height, where you must gain more than 1100 metres from your lowest point after release.
We will teach you the ability to soar, and to fly cross country- Soaring and Navigation.
The full Gold Badge is again 5 hours, 300+km cross country, and a height gain of more than 3100 metres. (about 10,300 feet)
- How high can I go?
You can chose how high you can go on the aerotow, but a practical limit would be 5000 feet- and its not cheap. But if conditions are right, your instructor will attempt t soar and gain height using rising air currents- and show you how. For flights above 10,000 feet, all our club aircraft have Oxygen systems fitted. Members regularly fly above 10,000 feet, and we have many, most years well over 100 flights above 20,000 feet. The UK record, over 38000 feet was set by a glider flying from the club. The best height in 2018 was 29,700 feet, by a club member.
- Can I do aerobatics
We can also train you for aerobatics, all our gliders are at least semi-aerobatic- Our new Perkoz, if we fit the shorter wingtips is fully aerobatic.
- Do you fly at night?
Gliders are not allowed to fly at night in UK.
- Can I fly in cloud ?
We insist on cloud flying training before you venture above the clouds, in case the gaps close.
We can train you for flying on instruments. All club 2-seaters are equipped for flying in cloud, as are the single seaters, as long as occupants are wearing a parachute and the glider is not in controlled airspace.
- Can I eventually teach others?
You can go on to instruct others, and the path to that is as follows. You would start as an Introductory Flight Pilot (IFP) or Basic Instructor (BI) after some club training and a weekend course with the Regional examiner.
IFPs can fly members of the public who have joined the club, but cannot let them touch the controls.
BIs can teach the public the effects of controls, and let them fly the glider.
You can then move to become an Instructor, where you can teach the whole gliding syllabus.
- Can I enter competitions?
Some go on to fly in competitions, racing cross country over planned routes and using rising air, and there is one UK competition (Mountain Soaring Competition) help early September annually at Aboyne, and two Scottish competitions, (the Inter-Club league) held at various Scottish clubs each year.
- What is local soaring?
You can just enjoy staying airborne and enjoying the scenery, getting a free ride from rising air. There is no pressure to fly cross country, many people get great pleasure just staying airborne locally.