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, many 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 - the younger you are, the more quickly you learn. 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 or posess a DL9 driving medical prior to going solo in a glider. These are similar to those required for microlight aircraft and are less restrictive than CAA medical certificates for a Private Pilot License for general aviation aircraft. There are also weight limitations to satisfy weight and balance conditions for the gliders but these are not restrictive, ideally prospective pilots should be between 55-100kg.

Subsidised costs are available for youth club members under 19, making gliding a highly cost-effective route into the wider aviation world. All youth under 25 also have the opportunity to take part in Youth Glide NZ training camps held around the country at reduced cost. For more information check out the Youth Glide NZ website.

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 an 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 annual club membership fee and the mandatory Gliding New Zealand affiliation fee. These will vary between $150-$400 depending on the month of the year, the remainder 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, oversee launching operations, operate the winch to launch gliders and drive the retrieve-cars to haul back landed gliders and the winch cables. It is usual to spend a full day at the airfield, both flying and helping out on the ground. 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 travelling together is a good time to discuss in an informal way the many aspects of glider flying.

How long will it take before I can fly solo?

It depends on how often you fly and if you have any prior general aviation or hang gliding/paragliding experience as this will make converting to glider flying much quicker. If you can commit to every weekend we operate it may only take a few months to fly solo, but it can take longer if you don't mind training at a slower pace.

Most people take about 10-15 hours of flight time and 30-50 winch launches to solo at an approximate cost of $1500-$2500. A list of rates and fees is available on the For Pilots page.

The club also occasionally organises intensive training courses for groups of pre-solo pilots from 3-4 days in length throughout the year. Check out our Events calendar for information on any future training courses, or contact the club to enquire about course details.

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 gaining type ratings for the clubs' single seat gliders and the Soaring Pilot certificate, where you consolidate your flying experience and learn to harness the natural sources of rising air such as thermals, ridge lift and wave.

The Cross-Country Pilot (XCP) certificate is the gliding equivalent of the Private Pilot Licence and demonstrates your competence in flying beyond gliding range of the airfield and in off-field landings. It also permits you to fly with passengers.

The Task Pilot and Alpine Pilot certificates are self-studied and recognise more advanced soaring capability over longer distances and higher altitudes.

There are also opportunities to gain internationally-recognised FAI badge awards for flights of certain distance, height gain or duration and get involved with competitive flying, instructing others, aerobatics 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.

For more general information on gliding have a look at these links Wiki Gliding or Wiki Sailplane

Feel free to contact the club if you have any more questions and hopefully we can assist you.