Some Recommended Reading !
New-Comers Start Here !
Welcome to the sport of gliding! Or, to be more precise, 'soaring' in sailplanes. This
Page should answer the most commonly asked questions about gliding, and prepare
you for your first visit to a gliding site.
All Training, Passenger Flights and Trial Instructional Flights are carried out by
Gliding Clubs in dual control, two-seat sailplanes.
Clubs will be happy to take you for a flight.
If you might be interested in trying gliding as a sport, you should ask for an "Air
Experience Flight" - you'll then be given an introductory lesson in flying !
If you decide to commence training; we recommend you visit more than one club,
before you choose which one suits you !
They are all different!
You can normally drop in any time a club is operating, for a flight. It may pay to
telephone first, if in doubt about the weather - for example strong winds can prevent
a club from flying - because of difficulty in ground-handling of aircraft.
Gliding, in Australia, is a year round sport, and winter is a good time for basic
training. In the hotter months, although training continues, the accent is on duration
and cross-country flying.
Gliding is an equal opportunity sport, open to both sexes and to people of all ages.
The minimum age to fly solo is 15 years, and there is no maximum. If pilots wish to
take part in competitive flying, they do so in a one-contest situation: Club, State and
National Contests are open to all equally.
Don't be afraid to ask questions when you visit a club, and experience your first
flight: make it a learning experience. Hopefully you will return to share what is an
absorbing pastime - where flying is only part of the fun!
Gliding as a sport is quite diverse. It varies from the top competition pilots flying
their state-of-the-art sailplanes across vast distances, sometimes in excess of 1,000
km at speeds of up to 150 km/hr or more, to pottering around the local area in a little
wooden glider, close to the home field.
There are gliding clubs in every State and Territory of Australia. Details about the
clubs can be found in the National Gliding Club Directory.
Some Recommended Reading !
Like To Try Gliding?
If you live near a capital city you're in a position to visit several clubs, and decide
which one is best suited to you, your budget, and your expectations.
If the weather is warm, take a hat, some drinking water, and a good sunblock!
When you visit, don't sit in your car and watch, while waiting to have a flight. You'll
learn more by getting out, talking to people (about their favourite subject) and getting
involved. You may be able to help in the operation!
Then compare the various clubs, before deciding which one you'd like to join.
Compare them for costs of membership and flying, facilities and equipment, club
spirit and social environment.
Your visit to a Gliding Site - What to expect!
It's your turn to fly! Now, before you get into the two-seater that will take you aloft,
you must first make sure that your weight is in within correct limits. You should
know your weight in kilograms. The appropriate limits will be shown on a placard in
the cockpit. Ballast can be added if necessary before you take off.
If you are about to have a winch launch for the first time, it is preferable that you
have watched one previously. You may be surprised by the apparent angle of climb,
until you're used to it. Towards the top of the launch, the pilot will ease off the
climb and release the cable. Often you will hear a loud click as it releases itself
automatically. Then the airspeed settles down to your usual 40 to 45 knots, and
you're off on your flight.
An auto-tow launch is very similar to a winch tow, with a longer ground-run and a
An aero-tow launch is completely different. Here the sailplane follows the tug
aircraft to an agreed altitude - usually 2,000ft above the ground. At this point you
release the tow-rope. Each aircraft then breaks off in a different direction.
On your first flights, as well as a look at the local scenery, you will be shown how
stable the aircraft is. In smooth conditions most aircraft will fly "hands off" quite
To control the machine in the air, you use smooth, gentle control inputs, holding the
control column with just a couple of fingers. The only sound is the air over the
canopy of the glider - after a while you'll be able to judge your airspeed by the noise
of the airflow!
Your First Lessons !
When you first begin instruction, you should try to fly once per weekend if you can.
Too long an interval will extend the period of your training as too much revision is
needed. Once a fortnight is regarded as the minimum.
Your training will be done by a Club Instructor authorised by the Gliding Federation.
The training will follow an established syllabus and you'll be given a booklet in
which details of your training are noted.
There are some 3,000 members of GFA Australia wide. The approximately 100
Gliding Clubs are in of one of five regions.
GFA is a self-administering body and gliding does not come under direct control of
the Civil Aviation Authority. There are no licences for gliding but Gliding Certificates.
Instruction can only be given by authorised and accredited instructors.
There is a rating system in line with level of proficiency to ensure an adequate standard is met at each stage.
An example is a cross-country rating, allowing a pilot to fly across the country-side out
of gliding range of the airfield. This is only awarded after an ability to land out in an
unknown paddock is demonstrated.