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Information for New Pilots

Learning to Fly in Kent

Almost anyone can learn to fly a glider! If you are old enough to drive a car (and even if you aren't!), you should be able to learn to fly with us. Come and have a go with a Trial Flying Lesson and then make your mind up.

Glider flying behind tug

General background on Gliding: See the Wikipedia entry on the sport in the 'Useful Gliding Information' section under the Links tab.

Age: You have to be at least 14 to fly with us (for regulatory and insurance reasons) and there is no upper limit.. indeed, some of our members are in their 80s.

Weight: There is an upper weight limit of approximately 16 stone (101kg), this is a training glider structural restriction.

Medical Disclaimer: You will have to sign this before you fly with us. You do not have to be a world class athlete to fly a glider, if you are fit enough to drive a car you should be able to fly a glider.

What to wear: Airfields, including gliding sites, are exposed places, so warm and waterproof clothing with stout shoes are a necessity during the Autumn through to Spring months. Lighter, waterproof clothing will do in the Summer, when a hat and suntan lotion will protect your head and skin both on the ground and in the air.

Training: We are a flexible club and can meet most needs. Our students often begin with a Trial Flying Lesson or a Half Day/Day Course. Both of these include trial membership of the club for one month during which you can fly at club members' rates. You can extend this for a further two periods of 30 days if you take another flight during the first trial membership period. Students learning to glide (beyond a course) will often learn first on the winch and take about 60 launches to go solo if they are of average ability. Flights are in blocks of three launches as this provides continuity.

Flying instruments and controls

Costs: These vary as some students may arrive with some experience (perhaps even a PPL converting to gliding), some with none at all. Full memberships costs vary with age and distance from the airfield. Once the membership has been paid (perhaps after the initial Trial Flying Lesson or Course membership has expired), the only other cost is the launch fee and flying time in the club glider.

At the top of the winch launch

Theoretical knowledge: There are a number of useful books on gliding which are written from a practical perspective and do not require deep scientific knowledge. Some of the titles can be found in the Pilots' Area of the site. Your instructor will also provide briefings before and after each flight and all members will be more than willing to answer any questions you might have.

Puchasz being aerotowed

Solo and beyond: Once you have gone solo on the winch in a K21 two seater, you will progress on to the Junior single seater. You may also wish to convert on to aero towing, so additional training will be required in the K21, perhaps a small number of flights, before again converting on to the Junior for this launch method.

Flying Solo at Challock

Badge Flying: As you gain in skill, knowledge and competency, you may wish to obtain the BGA Bronze Badge and Cross-Country Endorsement. Some of the training for the latter may be carried out on the privately owned Dimona motor-glider ( below), subject to the syndicate's agreement. You can then progress to the Silver Badge, an internationally recognized qualification, which requires achievement in height, distance and duration levels. After that you may aspire to the Gold and Diamond Badges and various distance Diplomas. Details of the requirements for these badges can be found on the BGA web site.

Privately owned Dimona

Owning a glider: A large number of pilots, after they have gone solo and are at Bronze Badge standard, think about owning a share in a glider. Costs vary of course, as in any sport, but an early glass fibre glider (from the 1980s) could cost as little as £5000, so a quarter share would set you back £1250. After that your share of monthly costs ( for insurance, trailer parking, annual maintenance and airworthiness check) would be between £35-£40. A more modern standard class glider could cost between £15000-£25000, the monthly costs would not be much higher than for the cheaper glider.

 

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