Channel Gliding Club
Channel Gliding Club
Waldershare Park
Kent CT15 5NH

Tel: 01304 824888

More about Gliding
Most gliders don’t have engines so they have to rely on other methods to get airborne. The two main types of launch are a winch launch or an aerotow. A winch launch is where a long cable is attached to the glider and it is pulled into the air like a kite by a powerful winch on the ground. An aerotow is where a light aircraft is used to tow the glider into the air. Some gliders do have engines and they can take off without a winch or aerotow and then the engine can be switched off and it flies like a normal glider. 

Winch launches are relatively inexpensive compared to aerotow but an aerotow can take the glider to better conditions and give consistently higher launches. At Channel Gliding Club we use a winch and we regularly get launches to around 1200 feet.

Glider performance 
Gliders vary in performance depending on age, construction and wingspan. Performance is generally measured in ‘glide angle’, ie how far a glider will travel with a given height. This can range, in most cases, from 25 to 1 to around 60 to 1. 60 to 1, for example, means that in still air, the glider would fly 60 miles with every mile in height. 
Longer flights 
Gliders are always descending through the air but if the pilot can find some air that is rising faster than the glider is descending, the glider will climb - a bit like walking slowly down an up escalator. The most usual form of ‘lift’ are thermals that are common in the warmer months. A thermal is a column of rising air caused by convection and they are often signified by a fair-weather cumulus cloud. Using these thermals a glider can climb, sometimes quite rapidly, to several thousand feet. 

Cross country 
If the thermals are found over a large area it is possible to use them to fly long distances cross country – during the summer months in the UK flights of several hundred kilometres are regularly achieved.

Gliding is a recognised sport and pilots can take part in competitions where they are set a cross country task and they have to fly around the course as fast as possible - average speeds of over 100kph are not uncommon. 
Other types of soaring 
Other ways to gain altitude or stay up for long periods are ridge soaring and wave flying. Ridge soaring is possible when the wind blows against a ridge that deflects the air upwards and as long as the wind does this a glider can remain airborne above the ridge.

Wave flying is where a large air mass flows over mountain range that makes the air ripple like a ripple in a river. The glider flies in the up-going part of the ripple and this can take it to very great heights, sometimes over 20,000 feet.