Gliding Lessons Can Take You All The Way to The Top.
Gliding is perhaps the purest form of flying there is!
A low cost way to get to fly and very environmentally friendly. As it has no engine it requires no fuel once you get into the air. That is not to say that it is boring, far from it. Many are capable of aerobatics and we should remember that one of the most fearsome air forces ever, trained many of its aces in gliders.
Without an engine the pilot is committed to a landing every time. Similarly the requirements of accurate flying for cross country trips call for sharp skills and a keen eye.
There are many different variations of aircraft, and as with other types of flying the price range varies too! You could buy your own or go to a club on good days and hire one; most clubs have gliders which can seat 1 or 2 people in them.
Of course, if you do take up the sport you don’t have to be spectacular at it, or become an instructor, you can just have fun! Lots of people like just feeling the freedom of flying and who could blame them? The peace of soaring and the technical challenge of a cross country trip can be very absorbing.
In order to launch, you do need some assistance. There are multiple ways of doing this. The aerotow launch is very straightforward, and involves being towed up by a light aircraft with a cable in between. When high enough detach the cable and you are free to fly.
Winch launching is probably the most common. Attached to a long winch cable the aircraft is pulled into the air and once overhead the cable is detached and you are free to roam the skies.
Bungee launching is not very common now. For this, you need a hill with a wind (quite common in Scotland!) blowing against it. The bungee will be attached (basically a big bit of elastic) and stretched. Once it is tight enough it is released hurling you into the air. You can stay in the sky using the "hill lift". The wind blowing towards the hill is forced upwards over the rising slope the pilot can then ride the wave.
Lift can also be obtained from thermals staying up the same way eagles do, circling in columns of rising warm air. It is actually not unknown to see eagles or buzzards flying along beside you.
Finally there is such a thing as a self launching motor glider. Once aloft the engine is switched off and in some cases retracted inside. Not one for the purist but to be truly free would you compromise?
Once you have got the hang of staying up, you can go to different locations or just fly and enjoy the view! Maybe you want to see the local area from a different viewpoint or learn to soar across country. This just needs height, and enough skill to gain more height to travel over distances. Simple eh?