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Gliding originates from the earliest days of aviation. Modern gliders or sailplanes incorporate many technological advances both in performance and innovative design.
The pilot’s ability to locate and fly in currents of rising air allows the glider to remain aloft for a number of hours covering great distances (up to 1000km on good soaring days).
Competition flying is a major part of the sport, with participants vying for the fastest speed/shortest time over a given route.
A ’pure’ glider does not have an engine and needs to be launched by some external means. This can be achieved in a number of ways, the most popular being towed to altitude behind an aeroplane. Gliders can also be launched by a winch or being towed behind a vehicle (auto-tow).
To overcome the burden of having to rely on an external launch method, powered gliders are equipped with engines which are used for take-off and then after launch some retract behind the cockpit into the fuselage. Power assisted gliders are also equipped with small engines, not powerful enough for take-off but are used inflight as a sustainer engine when needed. his enables the glider to remain airborne and avoid having to land off-airport when gliding conditions deteriorate.
A self-administering organisation is responsible for administering operational and airworthiness standards for gliders and for issuing pilot certificates.
Find out more about self-administering organisations.
Find out more about being an informed participant in sport aviation.