What is gliding?
Gliding is a type of non-powered aeronautical sport and leisure activity. Gliding involves the usage of ultralight aircraft without engines. Gliders use updraft currents to gain height and cover distance by gliding.
How do you fly without an engine?
The glider is a type of airplane which creates lift force by moving trough the air-mass. The glider covers big distances for a very small height loss and descent rate (less than 1 meter per second). To gain height gliders use warm vertical currents called thermals which rise up in the atmosphere. Alternative sources of lift is air deflected upwards by terrain obstacles such as mountains (ridge soaring, mountain waves).
What happens when the wind stops?
We keep flying! To gain height the glider needs rising currents which are created by the air heating up near the ground or jumping over obstacles. When a glider reaches the top of a rising column of air it starts soaring in search of the next climb and so on. The extent of the flight depends on the meteorological conditions. Often a flight can continue for more than a few hours while covering distances of hundreds of kilometers and gaining heights up to a couple of thousand meters. In case the pilots doesn’t find enough lift – he proceeds to landing.
How do you takeoff if you have no engine?
To takeoff the glider plane is towed in the air by another motorized airplane or a special winch with the help of a long rope. Alternative methods of takeoff include, automobile tow, bungy launch down a slope or gravitational launch down a steep slope.
How do you land without an engine?
The glider lands in the exact same way as a powered aircraft, sometimes even smoother ;). The pilot regulates the speed and direction of the plane. The pilot adjusts it’s heading in such a way to touch the ground in a horizontal and leveled position. The difference between powered and non-powered aircraft is that non-powered aircraft require a bit more precision in the approach because they can’t do a second attempt. Gliders have a lower overall mass and are build to be able to land in almost any terrain. No designated runway is necessary as long as the ground is flat and there are no obstacles .
Is it dangerous?
The biggest danger in gliding is … that you might get addicted to it! 🙂 . Gliders are one of the safest flying apparatus. Their simple construction and lack of power installation makes them very reliable. With the proper training or a trained instructor you can enjoy countless hours of safe and pleasurable flights. Of course no one is safe from human errors, but for those rare extreme moments when things go wrong, we carry reserve parachutes. Sometimes even the aircraft has it’s own reserve parachute that can bring it to the ground safe in case of an emergency.
Can I fly?
Gliding unlike motorized aviation is one of the very affordable aeronautical sports. To learn gliding you don’t have to be in perfect physical shape or to be very young. All you need is the desire to fly and to be older than 16 years of age. Oldest active pilots in the world are over 80 years old, and there are even specialized planes that allow people with disabilities to fly gliders. Of course like any activity, gliding requires constant training to keep your self at a safe level of practice. If you just want to try soaring without turning it in to a full time activity, you can try a dual flight with a trained instructor. All you need to do is gather the courage and enjoy the flying!