On Your First Visit

So, you have joined the club, signed up for your first gliding trip. Now what? Where do you go and what should you bring? Hopefully this page will answer any questions about have about coming along for the first time!

What to bring
Photo ID

You will need some form of photo ID so that the RAF can issue you with a day pass for gliding - either a driving licence or a passport. Due to the level of security on an active RAF base, you will not be allowed on the airfield without valid photo ID, therefore this one is especially important!

Warm Clothing

The importance of suitable clothing cannot be stressed enough. In winter wear waterproof boots or sturdy trainers (to keep your feet dry and warm) and a warm jumper or fleece under a jacket to keep the wind out. If in doubt, bring a more clothes than you think you will need. Airfields are famed for being THE coldest places on Earth in winter, so wrap up warm! Gloves and a warm hat are pretty much essential, and a scarf is a good idea too. Kilts, skirts and dresses do not go well with parachutes so wear warm trousers instead. Don't wear your best clothes because it's simply not practical. It's an airfield, not a fashion parade! In summer most pilots wear sunglasses and some kind of hat to keep the sun off. Sunscreen also is something to remember.


There is usually (but not always) a supply of hot and cold drinks as well as snacks and sandwiches available on the bus for a few pennies. There is also a Spar shop on the base, which is 5 minutes walk from the gliding club hangars. You can bring along your own food to supplement this, but most people do not bother. If you are vegetarian however, it is advisable to bring you own food since the food provided tends to include some form of meaty goodness. If you stay overnight, meals are usually available at the Italian restaurant next door, or the Spar shop on base.


Don't forget to bring a cheque book, or cash, to pay for your flying on the day. You might also want to bring some change for drinks & snacks. There is a cash machine in the Spar shop on base, but it charges you to make a withdrawal.

Progress Card & Log Book

You will be given these after your first flights, and you should take them with you every time you go flying after that. Your progress card is needed so that the instructors can see how you are getting on before each flight. Your log book is needed to record your flights, a legal requirement if you intend to learn to fly.


If you ask your instructor, they will let you take pictures from the air during your flights!

Where we meet

Each Saturday and Sunday morning when we are going to Cranwell, we will meet in front of the Portland Building at 7.45am. The cars will leave at 8am sharp so we can get to the airfield for about 9am. If you get the impression that the weather will not be great and there will be no flying, you should turn up anyway. We will still drive to the airfield in any weather, for two reasons:

Firstly, you never know, the weather may change! Many a day we have turned up expecting no flying at all due to bad weather, and it has turned out to be flyable, or even quite a nice day!

Secondly, there are usually lots of other things to do on the airfield involving maintenance of the gliders and trailers, and everybody who comes regularly should help out at some point - this is what makes the flying so cheap!

If a flying trip is cancelled due to bad weather, we will let you know as soon as the decision is made.

Finally, if you cannot come on a weekend you are signed up for for any reason, you should let the flying organiser know as soon as possible. Usually there are others who want to flying and it would not be fair to them. If you do not let us know in reasonable time, others will have priority in the sign up the following week.

When we are meeting to go to another airfield, either for the day or for an expedition, we usually pick people up either at the Portland building or at some other convenient place. The time of the pickup will depend on where we are going, and we will let you know during the sign up on Tuesday or via e-mail.

On the airfield

On your first visits to the site it may be hard to see how the people at the airfield are organised. Whenever gliding is taking place there will be a Duty Instructor, called the 'DI' at the launch site. They are in charge of everything that happens on the airfield, and their word is law. The DI is there to see that safe procedures are followed. They have an assistant called a Duty Pilot, or 'DP', who takes some of the pressure off the DI by arranging instructors for pupils, deciding who to launch next and allocating tasks such as winching and cable retrieving.

On a typical weekend day there will be a dozen members of Cranwell Gliding Club at the launch point and ten or so NUGC members. There should always be at least one student present who knows the ropes and who can introduce the others to the Duty Pilot. If you find yourself at the launch point without a clear idea of what is happening, don't be afraid to ask!

Finally, if you see anything that you think is dangerous, point it out to the DP or any of the regular folks - the worst that will happen is that they will explain why it is not a hazard.

Once you arrive at the airfield you will receive a safety brief. You should also read the safety page before you go to the airfield for the first time. Although you do not need to know anything about gliding it is important that you understand the safety brief and follow guidelines to avoid any accidents. The chances are that if somebody sees you breaking these guidelines, they will let you know about it straight away (and more often than not, in a rather blunt fashion). Should you be on the receiving end of a harsh rebuke about a safety issue, please do not take it personally - the RAF culture is strong on safety but less so on sensitivity!

As soon as you get to the launch point the duty pilot will organise the flying list, i.e. the order in which pilots will be flown. When your name is on the list you should try to help out on the ground rather than staying on the bus all day - gliding is only possible this cheaply if people volunteer to help with the tasks that are needed to keep the airfield running. Nobody expects you to do anything you haven't done before - in fact you shouldn't do anything without being shown how first - ask if in doubt! There are always people around from NUGC and Cranwell who will show you the ways in which you can help out.

We hope you'll have a great first visit with us, including some amazing flights, and hopefully we will see you soon bright and early on a Saturday or Sunday morning!