How do you get a licence to fly a sailplane?
There are no licences in gliding, but certificates. As you progress you will receive a rating for each major achievement you make, such as when you first fly solo. The ratings are recorded in your log book, which becomes proof of your gliding achievements no matter where you go. A, B and C certificates are awarded as your training and skills progress and you reach certain competence levels.
What are the age limits?
You must be at least 15 years of age to fly a glider solo, but training can start before then. There is no upper age limit.
What are the medical requirements?
No medical examination is needed normally but you will be required to sign a Medical Declaration. Glider pilots who carry paying passengers must have a medical with their General Practitioner. Essentially you should be physically fit, and have good eyesight but wearing glasses is not a problem.
What courses do you offer?
Like most gliding clubs in Australia, the Beaufort Gliding Club operates only on weekends and public holidays. Consequently, training is undertaken on the basis of 'learn at your own pace’ and you can tailor your training to your own preferences and budget. Your training will follow the GFA syllabus, which is common throughout Australia.
How long does it take to learn?
This will vary, depending on ability and how regularly you train. As a rough guide, it would take the average beginner around 50 flights to go solo.
How much will it cost?
The cost of each training flight is $40 - $50, which covers the cost of the tow plane and glider hire. Instruction is provided free of charge and is a benefit of club membership. Allow $2,000 to $2,500 to cover your training flights. You also need to add club and GFA membership fees.
What qualifications do I need?
None - the sport is for anyone from any walk of life. A good measure of common-sense is needed to apply the Rules of the Air to your flying.
What exams are involved?
There are no written exams, but you will be checked by club instructors on the "Rules of the Air" before you fly solo. Other checks apply as you progress through your A, B and C certificates.
How often should I train?
To ensure progress you should undertake a couple of flights once a fortnight as a minimum, although a couple of flights each week is preferable in the initial stages. Continuous training prevents you forgetting what you've learnt in between sessions.
Who decides when I can fly solo?
Your instructor makes this decision. After completion of training and check flights, you will be able to fly solo only when the instructor is satisfied that your flying is safe and competent.
Once I'm solo, what can I aim for?
Going solo is just the start! As you progress, you'll graduate to flying single-seat sailplanes and will be encouraged to undertake cross-country flying. You will also aim for recognised gliding certificates - the main one is the 'C' certificate. This means you are competent to fly a glider cross-country by yourself, and to take non-paying passengers.
And what after that?
Then comes the badges, which recognise certain achievements. The Silver badge requires a five hour duration flight, a 50km cross-country, and a height gain of 1,000 metres. The Gold badge calls for a cross-country flight of 300km, a gain in height of 3,000m. 'Diamonds' are then added for a 300km flight to a nominated destination, for a 500km flight, and for a height gain of 5,000m. Certificates are issued for flights of 750km, 800km and 1,000km.
Gliding competitions are held at club, regional, national and international level.
Then there are records to be aimed for at all levels, in any number of categories. Records are set in single or two-place sailplanes, and self-launchers, for men and women, and can be for distance achieved, or more commonly for speed around triangular courses of 100km to over 1,000km.
And of course you can always race yourself around a course, against the clock, to improve your personal best time.
But if you prefer not to bother with competitions, there is a lot of pleasure to be had from soaring the local skies, watching the ever-changing scenery, free from the worries of earth-bound life!
Will gliding count if I take up power flying?
Yes. Soaring pilots can have their power licence training hours reduced in line with their gliding experience. Each individual is assessed by the flying school. In any case, the flight theory and basic controls (aileron, rudder and elevators) are the same for both sailplanes and powered aircraft, so your training will automatically give you a head start. Other similarities include radio calls, circuits, map reading and the like.
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