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Gliding & Glider Flying Experiences

Gliding Experiences: Everything you need to know

Serious about learning to fly a glider? Perhaps you just want to try a taster session first? At, you can take the first steps towards realising your dream.

Our discovery experience takes place in a dual-control plane: you’ll be towed to a height of 1,000 to 2,000 feet before drifting gently back to terra firma. If you want to have a go at flying the glider, your instructor might let you fiddle with the controls. The taster gliding experience is available all over the UK, including locations in Brecon, Decon, Essex, Northamptonshire and Warwickshire.

Got the bug after that trial flight? Take your new hobby one stage further with some serious glider tuition: book the mini-course in gliding, available in Surrey only. This half-day experience includes four exhilarating gliding sessions and 90-day membership to the best club of all - the Gliding Club! That means you can book further lessons at a reduced rate.

The mini-course can be booked by anyone aged 13 or over, and the taster experience is suitable for anyone 14 or over, although kids under 18 need to attend with a reasonably un-cool adult no matter what. Sorry guys.

On the menu


Q: So this is a recreation of the 1946 Rita Hayworth film? Count me in!
A: No, I think you are thinking of Gilda. This is gliding, which some call the ultimate flying experience.
Q: How so? Or to put it another way… actually I’ll stick with that, how so?
A: Gilders don’t use engines of any sort but drift silently on the air currents, until they safely return to earth.
Q: How on earth do they get up there? Witchcraft?
A: Usually they are towed by another aircraft up to around 2000 feet before being released and glide about the sky a bit. With no engine noise or a steward trying to hawk you cheap perfume, it is an incredibly peaceful sublime experience.
Q: Do I get a go?
A: If you wish. We have full day courses to teach you the basics of control and you can also take a hold of the lever, if you feel comfortable. Our experienced instructors will gauge your level of expertise and advise you on the best experience for you.
Q: How long am I up there?
A: It depends on the experience you pick and its itinerary, but usually flying times last between 5 and 20 minutes, depending on the weather conditions. With some of the experiences, multiple flights are included.
Q: Look, I’ve got webbed toes, look, look!
A: Yes, so I see.
Q: Will this disbar me, like at the swimming pool?
A: Can’t see why. There may be height and weight restrictions connected to your particular experience, so check with us or the supplier if you have any concerns and check the small print before booking for those sorts of stipulations. If you are under 18, you may need parental permission to have a go. There usually isn’t an upper age limit, though you need to be relatively fit and healthy to take part.
Q: I’ve always dreamt of gliding into a hurricane, can that be achieved?
A: That would not be advisable. As this experience is all about gliding and wind and thermals and stuff, it is very weather dependent. Always call the flying centre on the morning of your flight to check that everything is peachy keen.

Fun Facts

  • 1. There are many early, and quite sketchy, reports of flying attempts using gliders in the Middle Ages. A monk, Eilmer of Malmesbury, is reported to have attempted to take off from the roof of Malmesbury Abbey around 1000AD and glided for a while before falling and breaking his legs. It’s like I tell all the monks, try taking off from the ground first, then get on the roof.
  • 2. Otto Lilienthal was one of the first flyers to make repeated successful flights in a glider during the late 1800’s and became known as ‘Glider King’. This is different to ‘gliderking’ which is a word used to describe someone who frequently gliderks.
  • 3. An escape glider, surreptitiously built by British prisoners of war became known as the ‘Colditz Cock’. The war ended and the camp was liberated before the cock ever had the chance to fly, or even before Steven McQueen could jump over it on a motorbike.
  • 4. Paragliding combines gliding with a parachute, so there is no fixed craft structure. Rather, the pilot is held in a harness. Brit Robbie Whittall holds the altitude record for paragliding, reaching a height of 4526 meters, in 1993. Which is the exact same height I mistakenly think Barry Norman is.
  • 5. On its final descent to Earth, the Space Shuttle acts as a kind of glider, mainly relying on thermals to land. But we don’t offer gliding flights in one of those. Yet.
  • 6. If you attempt to take to the air in a Sugar Glider, you might get into trouble with the RSPCA, as it is a small, softly-furred possum with a bushy, prehensile tail. If I had one, I’d call it Scott.
  • 7. The National Soaring Museum in Elmira NY is an aviation museum dedicated to the preservation of gliders and recognition of famous gliding folk. Just don’t mix it up with the National Scorching Museum, which can be quite painful to visit.
  • 8. In 1952, pilot Charles Atger set the gliding endurance record by staying in the air for an amazing 56 hours and 15 minutes. That’s the length of over 100 episodes of Eastenders or 75 editions of Pointless.
  • 9. Gliding was a demonstration sport at the 1936 Olympics and was due to become an official Olympic sport in 1940, but the event was cancelled due to the outbreak of World War II.