Learn To Fly

A few answers to the usual questions we all ask.

Who can learn to fly?
The easy answer is most people can . Generally speaking, if you are able to drive a car you should have no trouble learning to fly. We have Student Pilots between 13 and 82 years of age and from all walks of life. You need to be in reasonable health with acceptable eyesight and physically fit enough to climb in and out of the glider. Size is also a governing factor, as once strapped in you must be able to reach the controls and instrument panel. Before you can fly solo you will need a basic medical examination from your GP and have them fill in the medical declaration form that will be kept in the Club records. The requirements for a gliding medical are less stringent than for a Private Pilots Licence (PPL), primarily just a check to make sure you have no health related issues that would prevent you flying safely on your own.

Are there exams and tests to pass?
Yes, five exams and three sets of oral tests to become a Qualified Glider Pilot. This need not put you off though as the exams and your flying instruction are all designed to make passing a breeze. Every winter our instructors present a series of lectures one evening a week for five weeks on each of the exam topics followed by the exam night a week later. During the course of your practical flying lessons you will pick up most of the information you need to pass simply by spending the day involved in this great sport. There are excellent study notes available and practice exam papers can be downloaded from
www.gliding.co.nz . There is also a Flight Radio Telephone Operators exam to sit but again you will pick up most of what you need for this while you are learning to fly then attend one easy class with the test at the end of the lecture.

How long does it take to go solo?
There is no set time. Everybody learns at their own pace and you will not go solo until both you and the instructors are happy you are ready. Sadly, like most things in life, learning is also related to age to a certain extent, so may take a little longer if you have been around a little longer. Generally speaking most students will solo anywhere between 40 and 80 flights for a total flying time between say 7 and 15 hours. It is really not an issue as all that matters is that you are fully trained and competent when you go solo. If you are able to take lessons frequently, this will be of great advantage, as no time will be lost trying to remember what you may have forgotten from lessons taken too long ago. The quickest and most cost effective way to solo is to fly 2 to 3 flights a day both days of the weekend until you are solo. Make that commitment to your training and you will be well rewarded.

Do I have to do anything else other than learn to fly while I’m on the airfield?
Gliding is very much a team sport. As a student glider pilot you will not be able to get off the ground without a minimum of four other volunteers helping you. I.e. you will need a Flying Instructor , a Tow Pilot to fly the tow plane, a Wing Runner to attach the rope and run the glider’s wing plus a Duty Pilot to handle the ground operation and record the flight details etc. So while you are waiting to take your lesson you will be part of that team. Gliding Field Etiquette requires us to either arrive at the field early enough to help get the gliders out of the Hangar, inspected and set up for the day’s flying or if you can’t do that then to stay late enough after your flying to help return the fleet to the hangar. After your first solo flight you will be asked to take part in the Duty Pilot roster which will mean a duty day about once every six weeks depending on numbers. It’s a great way to spend a few hours on the field and there are always plenty of other pilots to learn from or bounce questions off. Being Duty Pilot does not prevent you flying.

I like the sound of this so far, how do I get started?
The best way is to come on down to the Lou Cadman Gliding Hangar at the corner of Waimarie and Punga Roads, at the rear of the RNZAF Base Whenuapai or contact one of the members listed in the People page. Pick a nice weekend day and plan to arrive mid morning. Ask to speak to the Duty Pilot at our operations caravan and introduce yourself, you’ll be made welcome and the Duty Pilot will set you up for your first flight. The best way to begin is to take a Trial Flight with an instructor. You will have plenty of time to have a go at the controls if you like, or you can simply sit back and enjoy a stunningly beautiful first flight in a glider. If after your flight you are keen to begin learning to glide we have membership application forms at the caravan. Due to membership constraints imposed by the RNZAF we may not be able to process your membership, but we will be able to recommend other clubs in the area and region.

How am I taught to fly?
We have a panel of very experienced and highly trained Gliding New Zealand Certified Flying Instructors who are rostered on one day at a time. A detailed Training Syllabus controlled by Gliding New Zealand, oversees your progress through to flying solo and beyond. Copies of the syllabi can be viewed or downloaded on
http://www.gliding.co.nz/training/syllabus , or see our Links page. The syllabus allows different Instructors to see at a glance where you’re up to and decide what you will work on for the next lesson. This syllabus also allows you to continue your training at other clubs with their instructors. See our Instructors page to meet the folk who will guide you through your training. Also check our Fleet page for a look at the type of training glider you will learn to fly plus the rest of our fleet.

What do I do after I go solo?
Going solo actually occurs quite early in your training towards becoming a Qualified Glider Pilot ( QGP ). While it is definitely a high point in your flying training it is only just the beginning of your journey to becoming a soaring pilot. As your skills improve so too does the standard to which you are tested until you finally become a QGP . This is where your soaring career starts. After a short time flying solo in the two seat-training glider you will convert to our PW5 entry-level single seat glider where your flight enjoyment will take several steps upwards. After 10 hours in the PW5 you will qualify to fly the club’s high performance single seater, the Grob G102 Astir III. From here the possibilities are limited only by your desires. There is a range of Badges, which can be earned by cross-country, duration or height gain flights of varying degrees. Competition flying is very popular and there are several competitions every year that cater for all levels of experience. Most clubs arrange gliding camps at other gliding sites, which further adds to your enjoyment of this marvelous sport. Gliding also makes an excellent entry platform towards acquiring a Private Pilot Licence.

Can I take passengers for a ride in a glider?
Yes you can, once you have become a Qualified Glider Pilot , acquired your Passenger Rating and hold a current Medical Certificate you can fly your friends and family in the Club’s two-seat gliders.