Menu Sign In Contact FAQ
Banner
Welcome to our forums

Gliding - a good complement to powered GA?

Quite a number of GA pilots I know also do, or have done gliding.

Is it a useful thing to improve one’s GA flying skills, or do you do it for the different social scene?

I did look at gliding early on, shortly after starting the PPL, but found that the “setup” was really a bit like a sailing club i.e. you were expected to sit there and help out the whole day and preferably the whole weekend. You could not just turn up, have a flight, and go back home.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Peter wrote:

Is it a useful thing to improve one’s GA flying skills

It even improves the flying skills of an Airliner Captain, as the ditching of the A 320 in the Hudson and the long glide of a 767 running out of fuel in Canada https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gimli_Glider showed.

Last Edited by europaxs at 03 Aug 08:07
EDLE

Peter wrote:

Is it a useful thing to improve one’s GA flying skills, or do you do it for the different social scene?
I started as a glider pilot and, yes, I believe it has improved my skills as PPL — particularly in that I know how to use the rudder properly.
I did look at gliding early on, shortly after starting the PPL, but found that the “setup” was really a bit like a sailing club i.e. you were expected to sit there and help out the whole day and preferably the whole weekend. You could not just turn up, have a flight, and go back home.
That’s very true and one of the reasons I eventually gave up on gliding. OTOH it means the gliding clubs are generally working better than clubs for powered flight. Members know each other better and they’re used to spending time on other things than their own flying.

ESKC (Uppsala/Sundbro), Sweden

Peter wrote:

Is it a useful thing to improve one’s GA flying skills, or do you do it for the different social scene?

Both. If you are instructing glider pilots towards other licenses or endorsements (aero tow, night flying, tailwheel endorsements), you normally find the glider pilots have a much better understanding of what the aircraft is actually doing and the state of the aircraft, aswell as a good understanding of energy available (all three engery forms). I guess the most flying skill to be obtained in a glider are glider aerobatics (obviously) and cloud flying, which involves thermaling in 30 degree bank turns in convective clouds using just the Airspeed, Turn & Slip indicator the Variometer/Altimieter and a magnetic Compass.

Peter wrote:

I did look at gliding early on, shortly after starting the PPL, but found that the “setup” was really a bit like a sailing club i.e. you were expected to sit there and help out the whole day and preferably the whole weekend. You could not just turn up, have a flight, and go back home.

Well you’re usually not expected to just sit around, but help. Gliding is a team sport and you need at least three or four people working to have a safe winch launch. There are commercial gliding centres and commercial gliding schools, like in Oerlinghausen, Laucha or Unterwössen. Usually an aero club is set up to make gliding affordable and that necessitates the labour to maintain all gliders and other equipment and facilities during the winter. In most gliding clubs you are asked to work around 50 hours during the winter, but you then can fly 200+ hours per year on 700 to 800 Euros (per year), what is exactly what many students do in our club. (An other thing are some Akafliegs, the university flying groups with a good bunch of engineers who do build gliders and research on these topics – in Aachen you have to work for 300 hours per year, but then flying just costs the DAeC-Membership fee, some 25 Euros per year).

If you like gliding but want to be independent, you can have either a glider with a retractable engine like a DG400 or ASH26, but they are usually not that cheap to purchase (from 50k€ onwards). Or you can soar in an old Touring Motorglider, a decent Falke can be purchased for less than 15k€.

mh
Aufwind GmbH
EKPB, Germany

IMHO definitely. But then I might be biased. Question is how far you should take the training if you don’t intend to continue flying sailplanes and it’s only a stepping stone to aeroplanes. I’m quite pleased that we have a decent path to PPL(A) via sailplanes under EASA.

It depends on the country and also the club. There’re commercial clubs, I think they’re most common in the US. And there’re clubs that understand some people have time and some people have money. I don’t know what e.g. Lasham was like when you were starting out.

An alternative for gliding would be ultralights, which is ‘closer to home’ I guess. Getting your UL-license is a non-event if one has an existing license: 2 hours of instruction and 1 hour solo. Varies a bit per country probably.

I’ve done this last month, flying various machines: the Tecnam Astore, the Aeroprakt 22, the ELA gyrocopter and the Blackshape! Still to go: a three-axis ‘rag and tube’ one where you are completely out in the open and have to put on some good shoes to protect you against any weeds on the runway That may be the nicest as a contrast to my GA flying.. I don’t think i want to go as far as a trike (reversed controls!) or a motorized parachute at my age.

I quite like it. The low speed allows for nice sightseeing, and the atmosphere at the various little fields here in Majorca is very nice. These little Rotax engines pur along quite nicely, and from what I understand are quite reliable too. With a good headset it makes for comfortable flying. A bit bumpy when there are thermals, but lovely early in the morning and late afternoon.

The only thing that I needed to get my head around is to be faced with a 200m runway on final which looked more like an emergency landing scenario than anything else

UL’s have come a long way. Especially that Blackshape is quite impressive, although you could not operate it from a short runway. The Tecnam is quite a machine too, with a glass cockpit and a 2-axis autopilot.

Private field, Mallorca, Spain

mh wrote:

If you like gliding but want to be independent, you can have either a glider with a retractable engine like a DG400 or ASH26, but they are usually not that cheap to purchase (from 50k€ onwards).

Yep. Finding a wing runner is not that difficult. But you need a retrieve crew in case you land out which can be more than a hundred kilometers away from the field. That can test friendships. You want at least a sustainer to limp home if you don’t have a crew.

If you fly with a pilot who started as a glider pilot – you can immediately feel it. The couple of times I flew with pilots who had flown gliders before or who fly gliders aswell, I could very well feel the difference. Always coordinated, ball centered, better coordination. For a glider pilot every landing is an “emergency landing”. If I would start flying again, I’d fly gliders for one year, and if my son/daughter ever wanted to fly – that’s what I’d recommend.

Sure, in a typical GA SEP you will not feel much difference. A 172 flies just the same if you have your feet flat on the floor, or almost. But you realize how sloppy your flying is the first time you fly a Bücker Jungmann or Extra 300. At least I did, and it took quite a while before I flew these planes correctly.

Peter wrote:

Is it a useful thing to improve one’s GA flying skills, or do you do it for the different social scene?

I did look at gliding early on, shortly after starting the PPL, but found that the “setup” was really a bit like a sailing club i.e. you were expected to sit there and help out the whole day and preferably the whole weekend. You could not just turn up, have a flight, and go back home.

I do it because it’s fun. You can’t beat the experience of struggling to stay up in the weak Manx soaring conditions for two hours, it feels quite satisfying when you pull it off :-)

Gliding (at least pure gliding, rather than a TMG) will always be something you have to dedicate at least the whole day to. You can be pretty self-sufficient in a powered aircraft, you generally don’t need help to launch. But to launch a pure glider you’re usually going to need four people (glider pilot, tug pilot, wing runner, signaller), so generally to make a club work at all, members have to all pitch in and be prepared to dedicate the whole day so everyone can at least have a fighting chance of getting airborne. Glider maintenance tasks also require some heavy lifting (a typical club 2 seater will require four or five people to rig and de-rig, and the single seaters will usually need two or three people – usually glider owners will help each other put their gliders together and take them apart at the end of the day if they store them in the trailer). Then there’s help for cross countries – you’ll need someone prepared to fetch you with your trailer if the lift dies and you end up in a sheep paddock somewhere. So really, to take gliding seriously you do need to be somewhat obsessed and be able to devote the time, and if you’re not single, your partner has to either be tolerant of this, or also a glider pilot. Or you’ll get AIDS (Aviation Induced Divorce Syndrome).

If you can’t dedicate a whole day fairly frequently, then a motorglider that can be operated like a normal light GA aircraft really is your only option for soaring.

Andreas IOM

+1 The experience of flying a glider can not be beaten, but you have to devote serious time to it. I flew gliders for 15 years before going for my PPL, and because of my experience in the air I got my PPL easily within the mandated 35 hrs. I remember my examiner telling me that I gave him the impression I was quite at home in the air, and that is only due to flying gliders from an early age. With a sad hart I will end my membership of my glidingclub for 2017 because I cannot find the time anymore.

EHTE
41 Posts
Sign in to add your message

Back to Top