Key points:
  • Keep looking out
  • Select and hold an attitude in trim
  • Pause
  • Check and adjust with coordinated stick and rudder


You will often want to fly at a constant speed. Given a chance, the glider will do just that for you. We can now develop the advice in Lesson 4.4 ‘Airspeed, horizon and trim’.

  • The attitude (distance between nose and horizon) gives you a good clue what your speed is going to be.
  • The airspeed indicator shows the current airspeed, but after lowering the nose, it takes a second or more before the glider accelerates to the new desired speed.
  • The trim is vital to maintaining whatever pitch attitude you have chosen.

Each speed needs a specific attitude, which you should select or adjust with the stick; nose down for faster and up for slower. The key is to be precise with any attitude you select and then be aware that it takes a little while before we can assess the change on the airspeed indicator. The key reason for a delay is that the glider’s own inertia means it takes time to slow down or speed up.

While waiting for the speed to settle down after selecting a new attitude, use the time interval to look out.


We practice straight flight at a constant airspeed. Lesson 4 included some advice on setting the trim. You adjust the trim lever until you feel no control pressure. It makes sense to set the trim shortly after releasing from the winch or aerotow and whenever you want to make airspeed changes (e.g. fast straight flight, thermal flying, approach and landing).


The airspeed indicator is only there for crosschecking. The airspeed lag that we have mentioned can get you into a terrible muddle if you focus just on the instrument. Don’t become obsessed with the airspeed indicator! Only use it to check if the attitude is giving you the speed you want.


As well as wanting to fly at a constant speed, you will want to fly in a chosen direction. It helps if your first efforts are not affected by the wind. So you will probably first practice this on a no wind day, or your instructor will chose a direction where there is no effect. It will take some practice to find the right balance between control inputs. Fortunately, the cheapest flight instrument will assist you: the yaw string.

  • Use coordinated controls to select an attitude
  • Check, against a landmark perhaps, if you are pointing where you wish 
  • Adjust with coordinated controls
  • Small adjustments, with small angles of bank, are easier than big ones

If you find yourself flying with the string to one side, take care to maintain the wings level while sorting out the rudder.


What you want:


But if you get this:

  • Keep looking out
  • Keep the wings level
  • Remember the weather vane tip – here, a little right rudder is needed


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