How many hours do I need to get my licence?
By this, most people mean “How long until I can fly solo”, and the answer is – it depends! There is no set number of hours required but, before flying solo, you must have completed and understood the BGA syllabus and have attained a level of competency which will enable you to fly safely, without being a danger to others. How long this takes depends largely on your age, aptitude, how frequently you are able to fly and how many different instructors you have. It will probably take between 40 and 140 winch launches or 20 to 60 aerotows. The quickest way to learn is on a course but nobody will be sent solo until they are absolutely ready. Yes, there is a Glider Pilots’ Licence available from the BGA but it is not an indicator of level of competence.
What will it cost?
At most clubs you pay per launch, so you need to estimate, or ask your instructor, how many launches you might need. Add to this the soaring time (average say 8 minutes per winch launch or 15 minutes per aerotow) and the subscription to the club. Most course rates are worked in the same way but with a higher launch fee and no subscription.
Is there an age limit?
The lower age to go solo is 16 but clubs vary with regard to what age you can begin your tuition. The upper age also varies from club to club but people can learn to glide when they’re well into retirement.
Can disabled people learn to fly?
Usually yes. If your legs are the problem, several clubs have gliders that are modified to accommodate paraplegics. Gliding gives an opportunity for disabled people to participate on equal terms.
Do I need to have a medical certificate?
In order to fly solo you will need a certificate from your GP. This is a simple affair based on DVLA driving requirements. You do need to be fairly fit. Gliding requires very little physical strength but during the learning stage there is a good deal of walking to be done and, unless you are actually disabled, you will be climbing in and out of the glider fairly frequently.
Can we fly in any weather?
This is a fairly weather dependent sport. We cannot fly in any weather condition that inhibits the visibility, including rain and low cloud base. Very strong winds make handling the gliders on the ground hazardous and, whilst producing exhilarating flying for the more experienced pilot, can be intimidating for the learner.
Is it dangerous?
Gliding is an adventure sport and as such, although it is great fun, all aspects relating to safety need to be taken very seriously. Accidents do happen but they are usually associated with solo pilots over-extending themselves. It is worth advising your insurance company that you are taking part in an adventure sport.