Frequently Asked Questions
These frequently asked questions (FAQ) are divided into the following sections. Click on the link to go straight to the relevant section.
Who can fly?
Most people can learn gliding if they really want to. The main requirement is to be in good health and to have normally good reflexes. If you are an alert and competent car driver, you will most probably be able to learn gliding.
How old must one be?
The minimum age for solo flight (having completed the dual instruction syllabus) is 16 years of age. There is no upper limit, as long as you are in good health.
Are there height or weight limitations?
The gliders impose some practical limitations on the build of potential pilots. Pilots over 194cm (6’4″) are unlikely to fit in the cockpit of club gliders. Weights much below 8 stone (50 kg) or greater than 16 stone (100 kg) probably can’t be accomodated. Pilots at the heavier end of the range will need to fly with lighter instructors.
Learning to Glide with the Dublin Gliding Club
How do I get started?
Take a trial lesson. The cost of the trial lesson includes both the cost of your trial flight and a day membership period during which you may fly again at standard club rates. A one month trial membership may also be purchased.
Click here to learn more.
What trial options are available?
We offer various options for you to try gliding.
The Trial Membership includes trial lesson and membership for a month. Membership for the month allows you to fly again at standard club member rates.
The Aerobatic Trial Lesson + Day Membership includes an aerobatic trial lesson and membership for the day. Membership for the day allows you to fly again at standard club member rates.
Your trial month membership enables you to continue flying at club member rates and get a good feeling for whether you will take to the sport like so many before you.
How long does it take to learn?
Gliding experience is typically described by the number of launches rather than the number of hours flown. The average experience level before solo flight is between 70 and 100 launches although some pilots solo earlier and some later.
How much does it cost?
Our schedule of fees is available here. All the fees described on that page are all inclusive, i.e. there is no extra payment for insurance etc.
For a trial membership, the fee includes both the initial trial lesson/flight and one month trial membership. It is mandatory to be a club member before flying with us and the month membership covers this.
Flying costs after the first flight are at standard club rates as listed on our fees page under “Flying Costs”.
What about insurance?
This is included in our fees.
How do I get a gift voucher?
We offer gift vouchers for any of our trial membership packages. The cost of a gift voucher is the same as the equivalent Trial Membership. At present a one month trial membership costs €120 including the first flight.
To order a gift voucher and for more details contact us by phone or email.
How do I book a trial lesson/flight?
To book a trial lesson contact us by phone.
When should I arrive on my first day and what should bring?
If you have booked a trial lesson, you will be told when to come down. Nevertheless whether you have booked or not the following information is relevant.
As a non-member you should call our Trial Membership /Voucher inquiries number (see here) the night before to confirm that there will be suitable flying weather.
Assuming that we will be flying we recommend arriving at the airfield by about 9.00am (or at the time specified when you booked your trial lesson).
Ensure that you know how to find us. Directions are available here.
The airfield is effectively a large field. Depending on recent weather conditions it may be more or less wet/muddy to walk around. It is also very open and tends to feel colder than in town. It’s advisable to bring waterproof shoes/boots. When the weather is anything less than sunny, warm layered clothing and a windproof anorak are recommended. In sunny weather sun block and a non-peaked hat (e.g. ‘beanie’ hat) are advisable.
The only other thing you will need is either money or a gift voucher for the trial membership.
When you arrive at the airfield make yourself known to someone in the compound and we’ll take it from there.
What if I already have a powered aircraft license?
It helps to understand the aircraft controls but gliders typically handle differently than powered aircraft and not having an engine requires a different response in various situations.
As a result a powered pilot goes through the same training as an ab-initio pilot, but could normally expect to cover the overall syllabus faster. In particular a powered pilot will use the same introductory package as an ab-initio pilot.
See the power pilot briefing for additional information.
How do I progress beyond the solo?
After solo, there are many more goals attainable to keep you interested and challenged. These include the ‘Bronze’, ‘Silver’ and ‘Gold’ badges, converting to new glider types, and cross-country flying.
What is a glider?
Also known as a sailplane a glider is a high performance aircraft with a very flat glide angle designed for unpowered flight. The glide angle, which is expressed as a ratio, of the club’s training gliders is about 28:1. This means that in still air the glider will fly 28 meters forward and yet lose only 1 meter in altitude. Alternatively a 2000 ft launch will permit the glider to travel about 4.5 nautical miles before reaching landing circuit height. By contrast, an average light powered plane has a glide ratio of about 9:1 with the engine off. Modern high performance gliders can have glide angles up to 60:1.
How does a glider stay up?
Initially, the glider is towed up to 2000 ft by a power plane, called a ‘tug’. When the desired height is reached the glider pilot pulls a knob, and the rope is disconnected from the nose of the glider. Now the really skilled part begins. The glider pilot must now start to search for a thermal or other form of lift. This is a rising column of air, which has been warmed by contact with the ground, heated by the sun. An instrument known as a variometer helps to show the pilot when glider is in a thermal, and he now circles within it so as to gain altitude.
The nose of a glider is always pointing slightly down, and it is always descending within the mass of air that surrounds it. However, if that mass of air is rising up away from the ground at a faster rate than the glider is going down within it, the end result will be that the glider gains altitude relative to the earth below. This gain of altitude can be as much as 1000 ft per min. or more, depending on conditions. It’s great fun and challenging!
The glider gains altitude by using a thermal, then sets off in the desired direction. In doing so it will slowly lose altitude. Before too much height is lost, the pilot will seek another thermal, gain height in it, then set off on course yet again. So it is by a combination of thermalling and straight flight that long distances cross country can be covered.
Are gliders strong?
Gliders are manufactured to stringent strength standards which are verified by extensive flight testing before certification. The end result is that despite their often apparently light construction gliders can perform manoeuvres that are totally forbidden in the average powered plane, for fear that the plane would be over-stressed.
How fast do gliders fly?
Modern gliders can fly up to about 160 knots. The club trainers can fly up to between 90 and 160 knots depending on the aircraft. Generally glider performance decreases with increasing speed, substantially in the case of all club gliders. The result is that gliders are more usually flown between 40 and 60 knots depending on the aircraft, conditions and manoeuvre being undertaken.
How high can you go?
Local airspace at Gowran Grange is limited to 4000 ft above ground and all training flights will be conducted under that altitude. Where airspace and conditions permit the glider can continue climbing beyond 10000 ft, the height at which oxygen is required.
How long can gliders stay up?
This depends on the skill of the pilot and the conditions. The silver badge which many solo pilots attain requires a flight of 5 hours duration.
Who can fly?
In general glider pilots from any country may fly. All visiting pilots are subject to at least one flight check. A suitably qualified pilot having demonstrated a satisfactory flight check will be able to fly solo.
See the here for additional briefing information.
How much does it cost?
Our schedule of fees including cost of daily membership for visiting pilots is available here. Note that members in good standing from the Ulster Gliding Club enjoy reciprocal membership and are not subject to the daily membership charge.
What should I bring?
Although not strictly necessary, it is recommended that visiting pilots bring their log book and/or license with them.