What is Gliding?
Gliding is an adventure sport that uses specially designed aircraft and invisible air currents to fly for miles without any form of attached propulsion. There are many different ways you can fly a glider; some people prefer gentle soaring flights, some extend this to fly cross country tasks and the thrill seeking pilots among us even fly aerobatics.
Gliding is extremely versatile and is accessible to all. We frequently host our friends from the Sportability charity who help disabled individuals access a wide variety of sports and activities.
Read about Women Gliding here:
How do gliders fly?
It is a common misconception that gliders are solely reliant on the wind in order to fly. While it is true that the wind is an important consideration when we fly, it is not what keeps us airborne. Gliders generate lift from their wings. As air rushes over the wing, a negative pressure zone is created above the wing which encourages the wing to be 'lifted' upwards.
Gliders also need to find ways to maintain their height which for us at Essex Gliding Club comes in the form of thermals. Thermals are columns of rising air that cannot be seen to the naked eye. Pilots will try to locate thermals and stay in them by turning sharply. The rising air will carry the glider with it as it rises up towards the cloud base.
How we Launch - Winch
At Essex Gliding Club, we have 2 ways to launch our gliders. The most common way we launch gliders is with our winch. A Dyneema rope is run from our winch, which is positioned at the opposite end of the airfield from the glider, to the launch point where it can be hooked onto the glider.
Once attached, the winch quickly reels in the Dyneema causing the glider to accelerate and gain speed. Once the gliders airspeed is high enough, it can pitch up into a climb and gain around 1000 feet of altitude. A winch launch is a fast and effective way to launch gliders. You can read more about our winch HERE.
How we launch - Aerotow
If you're looking for a calmer launch where you can control the height at which you are released then an aerotow is perfect. At Essex Gliding Club, our Piper Pawnee tows gliders all through the summer.
As you can see from the images of aerotows at our club, the glider wishing to be launched is attached by a cable to the tug and towed into the air until the desired release height is reached. The aerotow is often the best method of launch if there are weak thermals or if you want to fly a cross country task and need to reach a start location.
You can read more about our Piper Pawnee tug HERE.