Learn To Fly
So you want to learn to fly gliders? Good decision, you won’t regret it. Not only is gliding an amazing sport in its own right, but it is a very affordable gateway into other areas of aviation, like powered flying.
If you haven’t already done so, an Air Experience Flight is a great way to try gliding to see if it’s for you. If you’ve already decided that gliding is something you’d like to pursue, you need to be a member of 3 organisations to fly with us:
- Adelaide University Gliding Club – that’s us!
- Adelaide University Sport – our parent organisation. This is free if you are a student at Adelaide University though.
- Gliding Federation of Australia – the body that governs our sport in Australia.
Please visit the prices page for details on what these memberships cost, and links to join. Once you have membership, you are good to go! The cost of learning to fly (once you are a member) is also detailed on the prices page. Worthy of special mention is our ‘Solo Package’ which gives certainty of costs (at a significant discount) for people wanting to learn to fly solo.
Our club operates just about every Saturday and Sunday, weather permitting. If you don’t have a vehicle, we regularly organise carpooling for anyone who needs a lift. It is important for students to indicate their attendance in the booking system before the weekend (by Thursday evening ideally). Generally we aim not to have more than 4 trainees fly per day so that everyone gets a decent go.
Our day typically starts with a briefing at 10am where the instructor for the day will give a weather briefing and allocate who’s flying what aircraft and with who for the day. It is important for all pilots to attend this briefing to be allocated resources accordingly.
After briefing, you will help prepare the aircraft for flying and learn how to perform the Daily Inspection on a glider, one of the many things that makes our sport very safe.
Once the gliders are prepared, they will be towed (by car) out to one of our 4 launch points on the airfield. The launch point chosen depends on which direction the wind is coming from on the day (we always take off into the wind).
Most of your flights will start with a winch launch, but we occasionally use a powered plane to tow us up into the air though (this is called an aerotow). We also have a motorglider which is handy for when the weather might not be so good for soaring.
Your training flights may last anywhere from 3 minutes up to 90 minutes depending on the weather and where you are up to in the training syllabus. As a part of your training, you will do a combination of theory on the ground, and instruction in the air. The Gliding Federation of Australia has produced a book called Australian Gliding Knowledge which you will be working with closely. All air instruction will be done in a two-seat glider with the trainee in the front and instructor in the back. Both the trainee and instructor have a full set of controls and instruments.
Generally, there’s only 2 weather forecasts that we will consider not flying/operating for: rain and/or really strong wind (>25 knots). Included with your GFA membership, you get access to GFA Met, a specialised gliding weather forecast tool which can give a very good idea of weather conditions from a few days out. Looking at the Adelaide weather forecast can be quite misleading as Stonefield often has quite different weather to Adelaide.
Flying 2 days in a row can really help progress your flying skills, as people tend to regress somewhat during the week(s) between training. Why not consider staying over at the club on a Saturday night, take part in the social scene (i.e. BBQ, bonfire, movie night) and then fly again on Sunday. We have a variety of accommodation options to suit your comfort and budget.
Once you and your instructor have covered the pre-solo training syllabus and you’re both confident in your abilities, your instructor will send you on your first solo flight – an exhilarating milestone in your training. Your first solo flight is done in the two-seater you’ve been training in. For your next few solo flights, your instructor will do a ‘check flight’ with you before you go flying each day just to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything. After several solo flights in our two-seat trainer, you may progress to flying our single seater aircraft (i.e K 8).
Following on from here, things that you may consider working towards are:
- Achieving a 5 hour flight
- Doing a 50km cross country flight
- Converting to our high performance two-seater (Janus)
- Converting to our fibreglass single-seater (Astir)
- Doing a 100km+ flight
- Learning aerobatics
- Flying in competitions
- The sky is the limit!