Frequently Ask Questions

 

Frequently Ask Questions

 

Q

Is it difficult?

A

No!At a basic level, it requires a similar skill level to driving a car. Many would even say that it's easier.

   
Q
How old must I be?
A
You must be at least 15 years of age to fly aglider solo, but training can start before then.There is no upper age limit.
   
Q
Is there a medical examination?
A

Not normally, although you should be physically fit, and have good eyesight (wearing glasses is no problem!)

Some gliders have been modified for people with physical disabilities.

 
Q
How do you get a licence to fly a sailplane?
A
There are no licences in gliding. As you progress you will receive a rating for each major achievement you make, such as when you first fly solo. The ratings are recorded in your log book, which becomes proof of your gliding achievements no matter where you go.

   
Q
Are there any examinations?
A
No, but you will be tested by club instructors on the "Rules of the Air" before you fly by yourself.
   
Q
What qualifications do I need?
A
None - the sport is for anyone from any walk of life. A good measure of common- sense is needed to apply the Rules of the Air to your flying.
   
Q
How is training organised?
A
All your training will take place in a two-seater dual controlled sailplane, with an instructor registered with the GFA. The initial part of the training takes you to a stage where you can fly solo in a glider. Everyone follows a set training syllabus, which is common throughout Australia.

Training is done on the basis of 'learn at your own pace'.

Obviously you can tailor your training to your own preferences and your budget.

   
Q
How often should I train?
A
To ensure progress, once a fortnights is a minimum; once a week is preferable, at least in the initial stages.
   
Q
How long does it take to go solo?
A

This will vary, depending on ability and how regularly you train. An average time to solo would be 6 to 15 hours of flying time.

   
Q
Who decides when I can fly solo?
A
Your instructor. After completion of training and check flights, you will be able to fly solo only when the instructor is satisfied that your flying is safe and competent.
   
Q
Do you fly in winter?
A
Gliding is an all-year-round sport in Australia. Strong winds will hamper gliding because of ground-handling problems. Too much rain makes it difficult for the ground crews but occasional showers won't stop operations. Bad weather often means a chance to catch up on maintenance problems.
   
Q
Will gliding count if I take up power flying?
A
Yes. Soaring pilots can have their power licence training hours reduced in line with their gliding experience. Each individual is assessed by the flying school.
   
Q
Once I am solo, what can I aim for?
A
Going solo is just the start! As you progress, you'll graduate to flying single-seater sailplanes and will be encouraged to undertake cross-country flying.

You will also aim for recognised gliding certificates - one of the first is the 'C' certificate. The main requirement for this is two soaring flights, each of one hour's duration. Then comes the Silver badge, which requires a five hour duration flight, a 50km cross-country, and a height gain of 1,000 metres.

The Gold badge calls for a cross-country flight of 300km, and a gain in height of 3,000m. 'Diamonds' are then added for a 300km flight to a nominated destination, for a 500km flight, and for a height gain of 5,000m. Certificates are issued for flights of 750km, 800km and 1,000km.

   
Q
And what after that?
A
Gliding competitions are held at club, regional, national and international level. There are records to be aimed for, again at all these levels, in any number of categories.

Records are set in single or two-place sailplanes, and self-launchers, for men and women, and can be for distance achieved, or more commonly for speed around a triangular course of from 100km to over 1,000km.

And of course you can always race yourself around a course, against the clock, to improve your personal best time.

But if you prefer not to bother with competitions, there is a lot of pleasure to be had from soaring the local skies, watching the ever-changing scenery, free from the worries of earth-bound life!

 

Q

How much does it cost?

A

As a rough quid, it would cost the average member who trains regularly, around $2100 to the solo stage.See the cost page

   

Q

Do I have to join a club to try it?

A

When you get a trial lesson, you will get temporary membership of the club. Whether you join the club as a full member depends on how much you enjoyed your flight!
   

Q

Can I buy a flight as a gift?

A

Yes, trial lessons as a gift voucher - you need to contact the club directly on 0409 683 159 See Contact page
   
Q
What weather can you fly in?
A
There are really only three things that will stop flying - rain (although, often if it's just showers you can fly between them), low cloud and strong winds (more than 60kph!).
   
Q
How safe is it?
A
Gliders are also very safe. They have been designed and built to the same standards as normal passenger aircraft, and undergo regular maintenance according to the requirements of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and the Gliding Federation of Australia. The person who takes you for a flight is fully trained and approved according to rigorous standards, this person will be an instructor with the Gliding Federation of Australia. All aviation sports have some risks, but the training and procedures that are used are designed to minimize these risks.
   
Q
How does a silplane stay up?
A
They use gravity and the flow of air over the wings to advantage, to overcome their own weight. The wings are designed to generate lift at very low speeds. When the lift equals the weight, the glider becomes airborne. It does this by moving through the air at various angles to the airflow, which allow it to climb or cruise.

Modern sailplanes have a top speed of up to 300km/h. When thermalling they will fly as slowly as possible, around 70 to 90km/h. When cruising between thermals they will fly between 100 and 200km/h.

On a day with very strong up-currents, gliders on cross-country tasks will carry perhaps 100 litres of water in tanks within the wings. This ballast improves performance in a glide, and will be jettisoned if conditions weaken, or prior to landing.

   
Q
How high can you go?
A
On a typical flight, you may get a launch to 2000 feet, and may get as high as 10,000 feet. However, the world height record (done in the USA) is as high as 50,000 feet!
   
Q
How far can you go?
A
This depends very much on weather and the glider performance. If the weather is not favorable, you won't go anywhere - you are restricted to the performance of the glider. A typical "glide ratio" of a glider is about 35:1 which means that for every foot of height they have, they can glide in a straight line for 35 feet. From 2000 feet, if you were to go in a straight line, you could go a little over 25 km's! If the weather is good, then you can use forms of "lift" (see soaring section) to gain more height so that you can go further. The record in Australia is just over 1,100 kilometers.
   
Q
How fast do you fly?
A
Typically you fly around between 50 and 70 knots but gliders can go up to about 150 knots (173mph). On a cross country flight, where you have to stop and circle in thermals to gain height and glide between, average speeds of 70-90kph are normal.
   
Q
How many can fit in a glider?
A
There are two-seat gliders (which are used for instruction) and there are single-seat gliders (which you only move onto once you are good enough to fly solo!).
   
Q
Can you take them apart?
A
Yes. Many gliders live in trailers, and are very simply put together - often in only 10-15 minutes. The wings are normally held together by a very strong "main pin", and can be taken off by two people.
   

 

Gliding is many different things to many different people. For some, it is just a casual hobby, and a way to meet new people. For others, it is an inexpensive way to get airborne. For many, it is even the cutting edge sport of either racing or aerobatics. For all, though, it is a silent and graceful way of flying without an engine. Of course, without an engine, you may wonder how you get airborne, and how you stay up. Read on! You may have more questions, in which case please go to soaring