Imagine harnessing the power of nature to soar miles across the open countryside, at heights of up to 30,000 feet and speeds of over 100mph in an engine-less aircraft and often at a lot less cost than you might expect! Becoming a glider pilot will allow you to discover the possibilities of the purest form of flight.


Although books and flight simulators are very useful and can form part of your training, there is no substitute for the real thing. You will be learning to glide with an experienced and fully qualified gliding instructor. Before each flight your instructor will brief the exercises and once in the air demonstrate each one before it’s your turn to try. Afterwards, there will be a debriefing where you can discuss what went well, and set goals for your next flight.

This booklet is a handy tool to aid your training. It provides basic flying exercises and some theoretical knowledge needed to understand them. Reading up on exercises beforehand will help you to better understand the instructor’s briefing and debriefing. Good preparation can save valuable flight time.

In gliding the learning never stops. Like Formula 1 it is a technical sport; several factories worldwide are continually developing new gliders and equipment to improve the performance of existing gliders. New flight computers, high-tech sensors and better flight instruments give the pilot improved navigational guidance and better in-flight information. Each flight you make will be different from the previous one. After you’ve completed the elementary and advanced training to obtain your licence, you can specialize in long distance flights, competitions, instructing, touring motor gliders or even aerobatics.

You don’t need to buy your own glider. Most gliding clubs have up-to-date and well-maintained equipment. If you are thinking about getting your own, we recommend waiting until your training has progressed so that you can make an educated choice. Glider costs vary from around the price of an old second hand car all the way up to prices similar to a modest house for the latest designs.

Please bear in mind that training will differ slightly at every gliding club, since no two airfields are the same and conditions vary considerably. For instance, some sites are in flat open country whilst others are close to hills or mountains.


The authors Roelof Corporaal and Dirk Corporaal, The Netherlands, 2021 

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 Gliding is a team sport. You cannot learn it from a book or a flight simulator. You need to be in the front seat of a two-seater glider with your instructor in the back. Before each flight your instructor will brief you what the exercises are for this particular flight. During the flight he or she will then first demonstrate each exercise before it’s your turn to try. And after each flight there will be a debriefing, in which your instructor points out what you did well and what your goals for the next flight are.



  1. Basic pre-solo training in a two-seater glider until your first solo flight;

  2. Advanced training until obtaining your licence, or equivalent qualification;

  3.  Further advanced training in specific skills like cross-country flights, aerobatic flying, mountain flying, cloud flying, taking your friends and family flying and eventually becoming an instructor.

We explain airfield safety rules, some basic meteorology and a little about how gliders fly. Mostly, though, we take you through the lessons building up to your first solo flight.
This first solo is an incredible experience that you will remember for the rest of your life and opens the door to the next stage of your training.

Gliding clubs are friendly places with a professional attitude. Gliding is a team sport. Both new and experienced pilots work together to have a great day on the ground and in the air. Most people you meet will be volunteers.

This book was written in the same spirit; we have chosen an informal style to guide you through the first steps in what we hope will be a long and enjoyable gliding career.


Gliding exploits the same naturally occurring currents of air that birds have used for millions of years. Using these invisible currents, known as ‘lift’, you can soar to great heights and travel long distances: hundreds of miles in the UK and thousands of miles in mountainous regions of the world. There are three types of lift:

  • Thermals, powered by sunshine and often marked by fluffy cumulus clouds.
  • Ridge, when wind meets a hill or cliff. (This is how gliding started originally);
  • Wave, downwind from hills or mountains.




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