Who can learn:
In theory, with parental approval, anyone can fly a glider as a pupil. However the legal minimum age for flying solo is 14, so we would not recommend membership to anyone under the age of 13.
The only other limitation is that, like most gliders, ours are not suitable for people weighing over 230lbs, and if you are over about 6ft 3ins tall you may be uncomfortable (although you are welcome to come and try sitting in the cockpit).
What it costs:
Everyone who first comes to Rufforth for a trial lesson automatically gets three months free membership, after which you will have to become a club member to continue. Full club membership costs £295 a year (£60 for under 25s and students, £45 for under 18s). On top of that you will be paying for launches, typically £27.50 for an aerotow, or £6.50 for the winch. Time in club gliders will normally cost 37p a minute. You may also need the odd half-hour session in the motor glider, paying £85 an hour. Instruction is carried out by voluntary instructors, and is free.
All your flying training will be carried out in two-seater gliders with club instructors, all of whom are qualified and approved under the British Gliding Association (BGA) system.
There is a standard BGA syllabus, which will take you through basic handling of the aircraft, take-offs, landings, and planning circuits. Before flying on your own you will also be introduced to (and learn to recognise and deal with) the behaviour of the glider when flown near the stall or when spinning. You will be given a record card showing progress, and will have a log book in which to record your flying.
When your instructor is satisfied that you can fly competently on your own when under supervision, and the weather is reasonably benign you will be sent solo.
For the first few weeks after first solo you will still be required to have regular check flights in the two-seater before flying on your own. You may also find if weather conditions on the day are difficult the duty instructor won't allow you up alone. However you will be gaining experience and, if conditions allow, developing skill at soaring.
For some pilots flying solo is their principal goal, after which they are comfortable flying locally. For others, it's when things really start to get interesting.
The next stage is the BGA Bronze badge- having this with a cross-country endorsement is considered the minimum to be considered a “proper” glider pilot: it indicates a level of competence equivalent to a private pilot's licence. It's also an essential requirement for flying outside gliding range of the airfield. To qualify you will have to demonstrate a higher level of precision in your flying and pass a theory examination, so more training is required both in the air and in the classroom.
Cross-country and beyond:
Once you have met the Bronze badge and cross-country requirements you will be considered competent to fly cross-country. You will have a good understanding of principles of flight, soaring, navigation, and air law, and will be capable of landing in a field in the case of the lift failing. You will now be ready to set off on cross-country. If you are like most of us, your early cross-country flights will be rather slow, and you won't be covering very much distance. But you never stop learning! As you gain experience you will be getting more skilled at reading the weather and the sky and will be flying faster and further. Ambitious pilots can pursue the FAI badges awarded for flying achievements (such as 300 Km and 500 Km goal flights), and if they have a competitive nature test their skills in competition with others.
York Gliding Centre Ltd.