Learning to fly gliders is a enjoyable and rewarding process. Most of our members have never flown before joining. Unlike learning to drive there is no definitive end point, you continue to learn and improve your whole life.
Pre-Solo training can be completed in under a year, it takes most people between 50-80 flights to get to a solo standard, although this depends on the person and the amount of commitment they put in. Ideally you need to fly at least once a month to make progress. These exercises don’t have to be completed in order, multiple exercises may be done in one flight.
You need to get an medical certificate signed and submitted to the CGC office before you fly solo. You should get this done well in advanced, because you don’t want to miss an opportunity to go solo.
To go solo you must complete all the pre-solo training (except aerotow, if you only want to fly on the winch). Your first solo is not an automatic process; factors such as the weather, quality of your flying, when you last flew, and your attitude and behavior all affect whether you will be sent solo. Ultimately, it will be down to your instructor’s judgement when your flying is sufficiently good for you to fly alone.
After going solo, you will do a combination of local solo flying and continued training with an instructor.
Once you are solo, you should aim to convert to a single seat glider shortly after. Single seat gliders are lighter and have slightly different characteristics, but are better for soaring and going cross country. Typically, students first convert to the Junior and then convert to the university’s ASW-19b called CU.
Once you are flying solo, you can practice fly in the local area. You can practice thermalling to gain height and extend the length of your flights. Once you can thermal, you can attempt Local Tasks. These are mini-cross country tasks that don’t require a cross country endorsement
The Bronze Certificate is equivalent to a Pilot’s Licence, you need to have a minimum number of solo flights and pass written and practical tests. While working towards your Bronze you can practice the techniques necessary for cross-country flying, safely within glide range of the airfield.
The cross-country endorsement enables you to fly cross-country. This means that you can fly away from your home airfield, without the endorsement, you would not be able to go more than 20 miles (30 km) of the airfield. To gain the endorsement you must complete training in field landings (emergency landing in a farmer’s field) and navigation. See the section below on soaring for information how to fly cross country.
The LAPL(S) is a full pilot’s licence and is valid across Europe. If you wish you can instead get a Sailplane Pilot’s Licence (SPL) which is valid worldwide. The SPL requires the same training, but a more rigorous and expensive medical exam.