by Claudia Krehl

Once you have joined our club and had a great couple of first flights, you are welcome to train with us and you will be taught by our own and by Cranwell's instructors. All the instructors are experienced glider pilots and have undergone various training courses to ensure they meet the standards of the British Gliding Association(BGA). The instructors you fly with may vary from flight to flight. This gives you the opportunity to experience different teaching styles and different ways of explaining the art of flying. Additionally, different instructors concentrate on different aspects of your training so that you can get the most out of your experience.

As a pre-solo pilot you will receive a training card and a log book. The log book will help you to keep track of the amount of flying you have done and there is space for you to note down your own comments for each flight. The training card allows you and your instructors to ensure that all aspects of flying are taught sufficiently and successfully. You will present this card to your instructor every time you fly, so that the instructor has an understanding of the stage of training you are at and it also allows him or her to brief you before and after your flights. You and every other pilot goes through the training progressively depending on your ability and you will not be asked to do something you cannot deal with.

Controlling The Glider

The aim of your pre-solo training is twofold. First of all, the aim is for you to understand how the glider and its controls work so that you are able to control the glider during all stages of the flight, and also to avoid and deal with any unusual situations that you could find yourself in. Secondly, the instructors aim to teach you how to fly safely. This means that you should be able to avoid any situations, which could potentially be dangerous, as well as teaching you how to recover from these. If you are making good progress and the weather is on your side you should be able to go solo after 40 to 80 flights. This is however just an estimate as some students are able to do so in less time and some need more time.

In order to understand how gliders fly and how the controls work together you will be taught how to coordinate turns, how to maintain a heading and how to launch and land a glider. The controls and their functions will be introduced to you on your first few flights. Each glider has slightly different looking controls so that it is important to familiarise yourself with these before your flight. During your briefings and your flight your instructor will first explain how these work and how to use them simultaneously. You will then learn how to maintain a heading and to turn the glider.

During your pre-solo training instructors will also aim to teach you how to soar in thermal, fly along ridges and use wave whenever there is an opportunity. This will allow you to stay up in the air rather than just coming back down and is especially important for improving your flying once you are solo. When you are able to control the glider in flight your instructors will slowly introduce you to the launches and landings and you will proceed to do more and more of these until the instructors are happy for you to do all of this on your own. However, just like being able to drive a car on a grass field doesn't mean you are safe on the road, you will at the same time receive training in other aspects of gliding to ensure you land safely back at the airfield.

Flying The Aircraft Safely

This second part of the training, which is taught simultaneously, includes checks to be undertaken in each flight, basic airmanship, circuit planning as well as recoveries from stalls, spins, steep turns and launch failures. All of these will be explained during your pre-flight briefing, before you learn how to recover from each situation. Before each flight and before each landing the pilot has to go through a series of checks, called pre-flight checks and pre-landing checks respectively, in order to ensure the aircraft operates as required and it is safe to fly and land. These checks will be introduced to you on your first flight and you will slowly learn to go through them yourself.

Secondly, your instructors will teach you in basic airmanship in order to avoid any form of collision with another glider or anything else for that matter. There is a set of simple rules each pilot must know for instance when joining other gliders in a thermal or on a ridge. All these rules and laws about flying are captured in the Laws & Rules of the British Gliding Association, which any pilot aiming to go solo should be familiar with.

After this, your instructors will teach you how to fly a circuit so that you are able to land in a specific place wherever you fly. Any circuit, no matter on which airfield you are or if you have to land in a field, although this is something which you should always avoid if possible, works in a similar way. Once the aircraft descended to a certain height you join the circuit and adjust it according to weather conditions and the glider you are in. Your circuit will help you plan where to land and will take you there safely.

During the later stages of your training, you will learn how to recognise and differentiate between a stall, spin and spiral dives as well as how to recover from these. All of these are safe to practice, although they can potentially be dangerous at low heights, especially after launch failures and during approaches. But don't worry, you are taught these so that you know how to avoid them or deal with them.

Finally, you will be taught how launch failures can occur and how to land the glider safely when they occur. Since most gliders are launched via winch and there is always a possibility of the cable breaking or the power dropping any pilot needs to know how to recover from these.

On The Ground

However, your training is not restricted to flying the glider itself. Since the ability for you to fly very much depends on the people helping out at the ground, you will be expected to help out yourself when others are flying. Usual tasks include things like hooking cables on gliders and launching them, retrieving cables and gliders as well as logging flights. All of these will be explained and shown to you and your help will be appreciated by everyone as it is required to make gliding possible for all.

This may all sound overwhelming, but don't worry. When you first come to the airfield no one expects you to do anything you can't do. There are always people around to tell you what you can and cannot do on an airfield and you will slowly be introduced to doing new things. That way you get involved and get to know everyone on the airfield as well as getting taught how to help out and to glide. Moreover, your training will not be rushed and it will be tailored to each individual student. At the end of your pre-solo training your instructor will ensure you know all there is to know about flying and controlling the aircraft as well as flying it in a safe manner. As soon as your instructor is happy you are able to do this all on your own you will experience the joy of your first solo, which is an unforgettable experience and it will leave you grinning for the rest of the week or longer!