Is gliding safe?
While any form of aviation carries an element of risk, gliding is relatively safe. Gliders are very strongly built, and there is no engine to fail. In the unlikely event of an accident occurring, there is no fuel to burn.
See our page about Flying Fees for the costs.To learn to fly a glider, the costs are largely dependent upon the aptitude of the student and how frequently you come flying - obviously if you are able to come to the airfield each weekend for a few consecutive weeks, you will learn faster than if you were to come flying only one day a month. An average student will be ready for their first solo flight after approximately 30 to 40 flights.
How long will my flight last?
Gliding is a weather dependent sport. In the absence of thermals, which gliders use to stay in the air, an average flight to 3000ft will last approximately 20 minutes. When learning to fly, you will be taught how to find & stay in thermals, and a thermalling flight is much longer.
What happens when the wind stops?
Nothing! Gliders are not dependent upon the wind to stay aloft. When circling in thermals, gliders are drifted along by the wind, but otherwise are unaffected by the wind.
How does the glider get into the air?
Our gliders are launched by a winch or by aerotow using a powered Cessna 206 or Samba tugs. The glider is attached to the tug by a rope, and the glider pilot follows the tug as he is pulled up to the release height, when the glider pilot releases the rope. In the case of a winch launch, the glider is attached to a long cable. The winch then pulls the glider to a release height of between 300 meters (900 ft) and 600 meters (1,800 ft).
How do gliders stay up?
Gliders can stay aloft by a number of means. By far the most common is called thermalling. When the ground is heated by the sun, periodically a parcel of heated air ascends, often to many thousands of feet, as the temperature of the air close to the ground becomes higher that its surroundings. If a glider is flown to stay in that column of rising air, by circling, the glider will also be swept aloft. After the pilot reaches the top of the thermal, he flies off, gradually losing height, until he reaches the next one.
How fast can a glider fly?
Gliders can fly as slowly as 35 knots (65km/h) to approx 135 knots (250km/h).
How high can a glider fly?
Thermals can go as high as 14,000 ft or more. The world height record is 14,102 meters (46,000 ft).
How far can a glider fly?
In the summer, flights of hundreds of kilometers are commonplace. The world record for a flight in a straight line is 2000 kilometers.
What happens when the lift stops?
When the thermals stop working, the glider will gradually descend. A glider can fly about 10 km for each 1000 feet of height, so there is a good chance that an airfield will be within reach. In the event of no airfield being within reach, the glider will land in a field. Field landings (out landings) are part of the training of every glider pilot once they are ready to fly cross country. The glider can be retrieved by a tug, or, of this is not possible, the glider is disassembled and returned to the airfield in its container.
How long can you stay up?
Gliders can remain flying as long as there is lift available. Using thermals, this is about 8 hours. By using prevailing winds blowing up a slope, a glider can be flown for as long as the wind is blowing. The world record stood at around 56 hours before it was recognised that these ever lengthening flights were dangerous, and recognition for duration flights abolished.
How old must I be to fly a glider?
The lower age limit to fly solo is sixteen, and there is no upper limit provided you are healthy, and suffer no medical conditions that may impede your ability to fly.
To be a passenger in a glider you can be almost any age at all. Several Club members regularly take their children for flights. For practical purposes, our Air Experience Flights are not recommended for children under the age of 12 years, because they often can't see outside the aircraft, and if they get upset for any reason it is difficult to calm them down again.
How long will it take to go solo?
This largely depends upon your aptitude and the frequency of your flying. You could typically expect to go solo after between 30 and 40 flights. People with some power flying experience will generally take less time to learn than someone with no flying experience at all.
Can I do aerobatics?
We would not normally perform aerobatics on the first Air Experience Flight, until we had time to assess your reaction to the flight. If one of our experienced instructors was satisfied there would be no problems, then aerobatics could be performed.
Some gliders in our Club Fleet are capable of various aerobatic manoeuvres, such as loops, spins, chandelles (like a wing-over) and stalls. Naturally, without an engine, and with such large wingspans (15m to 17m), there is a limit to what sort of aerobatics gliders are capable of.
Do I need a license?
A formal license is needed in South Africa and being issued to glider pilots. Instructor training for a Glider Pilot License (GPL) in our club is free, all you pay for is the usage of the winch, tug plane and glider. Each pilot keeps a log book which records their flying progress. When the instructor feels that they're ready to go solo, their log book is endorsed. As they gain additional experience and make conversions to the various single seater aircraft in the Club fleet, extra endorsements are recorded in the log book.
Refer to the Flying Fees page for these various costs.
What are the requirements for a Glider Pilots License (GPL)?
- Minimum age of 16 years
- Minimum of Class IV Medical Examination executed by a General Practitioner
- Restricted (or higher) Aeronautical Radiotelephone Operator's License
- Successful completion of all the practical and theoretical exercises, both pre-solo and advanced training, listed on the relevant SSSA Student Training Log
- Successful completion of theoretical test papers selected by the CFI from the Standard SSSA/RAASA test papers
- Test in flight with an instructor with a Full Category brevet, including oral and practical examination, recorded on SSSA/RAASA glider pilot test form
- Minimum total of 40 flights, including 20 solo flights and 10 launches per launch method
- Minimum of 6 hours of solo flight of which 1 flight must be of two hours minimum (engine off for touring motorglider rating)