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Learn to glide?

Old 8th Oct 2018, 19:32
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Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Scotland
Posts: 14
Learn to glide?

Evening all.

Would anyone recommend learning to glide? I'm 35 years old and always wanted to be a pilot since childhood. Unfortunately I've never had the cash to fund training and have only ever had 2 flying lessons given as gifts by family.

I am interested in the learn to glide package offered at the Scottish gliding centre for 250. I've also been considering lapl or ppl training as I now have the funds to do so.

I'm really not sure what's the best idea. Does anyone on here have their experience they would like to share or any advice for me?

Thanks in advance.


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Old 8th Oct 2018, 19:58
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Join Date: Sep 2006
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Evening Jazzer
I speak as a glider pilot of a quarter century standing. Firstly, the 250 offer from SGC is highly unlikely to get you to solo standard - you should reckon on 50 to 100 winch launches, less if you're mixing it up with aerotowing. But the good news is that Portmoak is seen as a bit of a Mecca for us southerners given its standing as a "Wave" site with spectacular mountain wave lift to ridiculous heights on good days. On the downside, gliding is highly time consuming, as we all muck with getting gliders launched and running the ground operation, so if you have a young family this might be a concern. But hey, give it a go and see if it's for you - the 250 deal effectively gives you 3 months membership and flying and you'll know by the end of that whether it's for you. By way of comparison, in gliding you can apply for a LAPL(Sailplane) once you've got your Cross County Endorsement, which clears you to fly cross country tasks on good days. It ought to be possible to get that far after a couple of years or so at your age. And you'll find that glider pilots are some of the nicest, mutually supportive people you could hope to meet. Let us know how you get on, whether power or gliding.
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Old 8th Oct 2018, 20:24
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I do have a young family which is a concern I have to admit. In terms of powered flying and from my research it would appear that aircraft such as the ev97 Eurostar, Ikarus 42 or Aquila a211 are the way to go.

I have read that to go solo in a glider costs around 1000 which in comparison to powered flying seems very reasonable. To get a ppl it appears that 10k is about what it would cost then about 150 an hour to hire an aircraft for an hour. No wonder a lot of people simply cannot afford to pursue their dreams of flying!
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Old 8th Oct 2018, 20:25
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Join Date: Nov 2005
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Learning to glide first makes you a better pilot when you add an engine.
Years ago I compared the costs and found that there was little difference between learning to fly gliders and learning to fly powered. Course it's different nowadays as there are different 'routes' to powered flying eg microlights, LAPL etc.
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Old 8th Oct 2018, 21:26
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Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Moray,Scotland,U.K.
Posts: 1,577
I started gliding at 19. At 24 I got a PPL. Gliding was a whole day for a few winch launches.
If you can afford it, a continuous, full-time microlight course would be the cheapest.
The aircraft you mention are not cheap. There are much cheaper ones.
XrayAlpha on this forum may offer advice.
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Old 8th Oct 2018, 23:48
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Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Broughton, UK
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Been trying to get some flights in the last fortnight in the midlands area, and the weather has been non too good. At the present it is even worse up in Scotland, so you need to keep up to date with the weather. You can sometimes spend a whole morning in the clubhouse waiting for a break in the weather, that never happens. So factor that into your plans, if you need to travel to your airfield.
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Old 9th Oct 2018, 04:38
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Join Date: Sep 2010
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Imho a weeks course with one instructor is the best way to go initially.

Unlike powered flying which gets boring gliding is three dimensional chess. The skill level can be far higher than powered flying and the possibilities endless but as pointed out it is time consuming and frustrating.
Give it a go as you won't regret it.
From a guy who was flown all sub sonic forms of aircraft bar autogiros.
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Old 9th Oct 2018, 05:21
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Join Date: Jun 2002
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Give it a go as you won't regret it.
I absolutely agree with blind pew's recommendation. Even if you don't continue with gliding after the course, what you learn will stand you in good stead with any form of flying you decide to continue with.
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Old 9th Oct 2018, 08:18
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Join Date: Apr 2009
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Hi Jazzer83 - 30 year glider (and ex-PPL) pilot from downunder here. If you want to fly because you love being airborne, and you have a sense of adventure, then gliding is definitely a lot more interesting that PPL flying. Possibly not cheaper initially i.e. before you go solo but definitely much cheaper afterwards. The downside is you can't really just rock up to the airfield and go flying for an hour - it's usually an all-day commitment, although that would depend on the club. Good luck!
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Old 9th Oct 2018, 08:35
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Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Oxford, UK
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Hey, Jazz83, DO NOT RUSH OUT AND BUY A GLIDER! not yet, anyway. But in Scotland there are at least three of the finest gliding clubs and sites in the WORLD! no kidding. It has something to do with those rows of mountains you have down the middle of your country.
First of all, learning to fly a glider, especially in Scotland, means you enjoy mountain wave conditions; once in touch with the wave of the day you can fly for fuel required! I have done a lot of wave soaring at Deeside club. But do check out your nearest gliding club. As far as your family is concerned, children can go solo at 14 in a glider....and they usually learn quicker than the grownups do.
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Old 9th Oct 2018, 09:25
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Join Date: Oct 2018
Location: High Wycombe
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I am your age - recently attained PPL.

I guess it depends what you want to get out of it. If the ultimate goal is to be able to pack your family into a PA28 for a jaunt to France, Devon or the IOW etc then you have to go PPL. It is expensive but if you budget over a couple of years and save before then it is manageable(ish!).

If it is for you and the wife to do the above then go LAPL route - they look great, are cheaper, quieter etc. But ultimately you are limited by weight constraints.

The glider route never appealed, purely because option 1 above is for me. I cannot take a day to go flying (just imagining the wife's face!) and ultimately the dream is an SR22 and the freedom to travel Europe. Even imagining being up with the family above the clouds - just us - AMAZING. 250 for a few weekends of fun in a glider sounds great - beats 1.5 hours in a 30 year old Cessna, but depends on if it's a fun few weeks you are looking for or a long term goal.

So think what you want from it and go from there.
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Old 9th Oct 2018, 09:46
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Thanks everyone. I think I'll give gliding a go. There are incredible YouTube videos of people gliding and it does look awesome.
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Old 9th Oct 2018, 10:45
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Tring, UK
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I was up at Portmoak last week and had some amazing flying.

Much of the gliding movement in the UK has cottoned on to the fact that people are no longer satisfied with pushing gliders around in the mud all day for a chance of a three minute circuit. Sites like SGC with thermal, hill and wave soaring possibilities use them to great extent during training. At my club in the South you can book instructional slots, just like at a power flying establishment.

Looking west towards Mull.
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Old 9th Oct 2018, 11:05
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Wow, great picture! What altitude was that taken at?
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Old 9th Oct 2018, 12:53
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Join Date: Dec 2003
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From memory around 11,000’. Will have a look at the logger trace...

Edit: About that, yes. We had been up to 18,000’ earlier but -23C was a wee bit cold in the cockpit so we let down to warm up!
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Old 9th Oct 2018, 13:39
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That's something you couldn't do in a Cessna or Piper!
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Old 9th Oct 2018, 15:16
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Some Cessnas......

Actually, my 172 has a ceiling of 17,000 feet (180 HP conversion) but it does take a long time for the last few thousand. On the other hand, it does have a heater ��
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Old 9th Oct 2018, 15:34
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What made you switch from power to gliding? How many hours do you fly in a year?

With power flying once qualified I could maybe afford 2-2.5k a year which would only get me 20hrs max.

I figure that for the same price I could get at least double that in gliding hours.
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Old 9th Oct 2018, 15:53
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Join Date: Aug 2008
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My three pen'orth. Started gliding at 15, long break (exams and University) then started again at 21, then motorglider PPL as it then was - really started off practicing for land outs and caught the sort-of-powered flying bug. Then a 'proper' PPL but a) it got too expensive and b) it was just too restrictive (all the procedural stuff and so on) compared to soaring so at age 26 back to gliding and it was just SO much more fun.

It really depends on what you want to do. For me the real joy is and always was pure flight. The ground support stuff was worth it for that, and in itself was often fun with good company and banter. I enjoyed winch driving and retrieving cables, pushing and pulling gliders etc!

Find a friendly club!
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Old 9th Oct 2018, 16:21
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Join Date: Dec 2003
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Actually, my 172 has a ceiling of 17,000 feet (180 HP conversion) but it does take a long time for the last few thousand. On the other hand, it does have a heater ��
Could have done with one of those in the footwell. Didn’t dress in all my arctic gear as I didn’t think the wave was going that high.

As of a couple of weeks ago, you will need a very serious aircraft indeed to go higher than a glider can - I don’t think there is anything sub-sonic that is able to.
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