About Gliding

Gliding is a recreational activity and competitive air sport, in which pilots fly unpowered aircraft known as gliders. Using naturally occurring currents of rising air to remain airborne, gliders can fly for hours and travel hundreds of kilometres.

This video was created by the British Gliding Association’s Glide Britain initiative filmed at many gliding clubs around Britain including at the Cambridge Gliding Centre:-

Learning to Fly 

You don’t need any prior experience to start gliding; most people are able to learn the basics and have their first solo flight within a year. All clubs in the UK teach to the same syllabus set by the British Gliding Association. After going solo and additional training you can gain a pilot’s licence.

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We use two main launch methods to get into the air – most gliders cannot launch themselves!

  • Winch – using a cable to pull the glider into the air allows inexpensive launches of 1,200 to 1,700 ft
  • Aerotow – towing the glider behind a powered aircraft (tug) is more expensive but allows launches of 2,000 to 5,000 ft.

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Soaring & Cross-Country Flying

Glider pilots can stay airborne for hours and travel hundreds of kilometres by flying through rising air called lift.

Exploring and harnessing lift defines the art of soaring which is an endeavor that’s easy to grasp but requires a lifetime to truly master. Adeptly navigating the best lift zones can provide a competitive edge, allowing pilots to fly farther and faster than their counterparts. Once you’ve mastered flying techniques, you can venture beyond the airfield and embark on cross-country flights. While starting with shorter distances, skilled pilots can eventually cover over 300 kilometers, relying solely on air currents to sustain their journey.  Find out more


After acquiring flying skills, you gain access to participate in various levels of competitions – local, regional, national, and even international. These competitions commonly involve racing around meticulously mapped courses spanning hundreds of kilometers.


Experienced pilots may wish to learn to fly aerobatics and even take part in aerobatic competitions.