Become a Glider Pilot
Gliding is one of the most accessible, affordable and rewarding forms of flying. It is also one of the most demanding and challenging adventure sports. While many dream of soaring, most will never take the step from having a trial flight to taking it up as a sport as it is not easy. It takes time to learn, takes courage and persistence but it is a learning path that's stacked with great milestones.
Gliding blows you away time and time again. It's the beauty, the skill, the views, the freedom, the sense of achievement, camaraderie, being in-tune with nature and the adventure in every flight. Come and do what only a few dare.
Could I do it too?
The short answer is probably yes, but it is only fair to warn you that it will require perseverance. Our club has members ranging in age from 16 to over 60 but learning to fly is a great challenge and we have found the challenge can be age dependent.
Baby-boomers who have for example flown power planes in their youth may pick it up OK. When you start out or try gliding it seems like so much is going on, there is so much to learn and you have two left feet. Don't worry, we all start out like that. It’s a very steep but remarkable learning curve at the start.
There are medical requirements for gliding and you will need to pass a basic medical from your GP prior to going solo in a glider. However these are similar to those for microlight aircraft and are less restrictive than those for a private pilots license for general aviation aircraft. There are also weight requirements to satisfy weight and balance conditions for the gliders but these are not restrictive.
Where do I start?
The way to start out is by doing a 3-flight Intropack at a price of $200. We have found it takes at least 2-3 flights before most people can get a better understanding of the sport and a true sense if gliding is for them.
Instructional trial flights are undertaken between 10 am and 1 pm on our flying days. Flights after 1 pm are subject to aircraft availability as they may be in use by club members. We are a small club with limited resources so our focus after 1 pm will move onto training our students but we do really enjoy introducing keen people to our sport.
Please note that we do not accommodate 'off the street' purchases. You must contact us first and purchase a $200 Intropack beforehand. Be aware that a waiting period may apply.
To purchase your instructional Intropack or for more information please contact the club.
Joining the club
If after completing the Intropack you think ”this is for me, I need more of this” then talk with one of the club instructors or one of the committee members who will be able to discuss options that will work for you.
The joining fee is set at $500. This covers our club membership and the mandatory Gliding New Zealand fee which operate on a pro-rata system (pricing table below). The cost of this will depend on when you join the club. The rest of the $500 goes into your flying account so you can start training right away.
As a not-for-profit club, we rely on everyone helping out to keep our costs to a minimum. On your path to flying you will learn to “run the wing” on launches, drive the retrieve-car to haul back the winch cable, retrieve gliders and drive the winch. It is usual to spend a full day at the airfield, both flying and helping out. It is not a boring day for those who know how to fit into a team and work where it is needed. It also helps to car pool with other car members as this time of travel is a good time to discuss in an informal way the many aspects of glider flying.
What happens once I go solo?
Your journey in flight doesn’t stop once you go solo, that’s just the very start of a soaring career. After your first few solo flights you can work towards Soaring Pilot and Cross-Country Pilot (XCP) certificates, glider type and passenger ratings, badge awards (for flights of certain distance, height or duration), competitive flying, instructing others and much more. There are cross country instructors within our club and learning opportunities with several of the other clubs around the country.
Need more information?
Training information, photos, other club contact details and more are available on the Gliding New Zealand website.
Many books exist on learning to soar; these can most likely be found at your local library. Our club has a small library available for all members to borrow from. You may also want to look at gliding videos on YouTube or a documentary like Windborn.
Feel free to contact the club if you have any more questions and hopefully we can assist you.