As someone looking to join a gliding club, potentially taking up gliding as your new hobby, you’ll have many questions! We’ve tried to answer some of the most common ones here for you.
The best way to find out if gliding is the new hobby for you, and if our club is the right place for you to learn to fly, is to visit and ask us in person. Please call the office in advance to arrange this, to make sure there’ll be someone onsite.
Gliding need not be expensive. Membership and participation is typically much cheaper than associated with a golf club for instance. At Camphill, there is no joining fee, and the annual membership fee is around half that of a golf club. To fly a club glider, you pay for the launch and your flight time – which for an hour’s flight may add up to around the same as a green fee in the golfing world.
When not in the air, enjoying stunning views of the Peak District, you’ll be helping others to fly as part of the ground team, still enjoying the stunning views as well as the banter that goes with being with your new friends. For a full day out, it’s incredibly cheap!
Everyone learns at their own pace, and there is no pressure to reach milestones within specific time periods. Therefore, you have a great deal of control over how long it will take you to learn to fly. If there is a rule of thumb, it is that the speed of learning is related to age.
A highly capable and motivated youngster may be able to fly a glider ‘solo’ after an intensive week or two, whereas a motivated retiree flying one day per week may spend six months or so learning to fly. There are many factors affecting each of these timescales, so please do not consider them as targets or tailored to you.
For the vast majority of new members, the pre-solo training flights are all part of the activity, with the solo status just being a point on a longer journey. After all, you’ll never stop learning to fly!
There is no joining fee at Camphill, by which we mean an up-front one-off fee, typically charged as well as an annual membership fee.
If you can drive a car, you should be able to learn to fly a glider. Gliding requires coordinated use of both hands and feet (unless adapted for disabled pilots), but like driving, the coordination soon becomes second nature and you’ll spend your time reading the sky and enjoying the views.
All training flights are done in a two-seater, dual control glider, with an instructor. There is no pressure to fly solo, and you will only do so when you and your instructor think you are ready.
“Flying Solo” is when you fly the glider without an instructor. It is the first step towards becoming a licensed pilot. You will only fly solo when you feel ready and your instructor agrees that you are fully prepared for it.
Going solo is just the first step on a much longer journey of development and discovery if you so choose. For some people, flying locally in good conditions without gaining additional qualifications is satisfying enough. Others go on to gain skills and endorsements allowing them to fly aerobatics, or cross-country, enter competitions or set height, distance and speed records, fly with passengers, or to instruct. As a hobby, gliding offers a lifetime of learning and achievement.
A typical training flight, launched by winch, may cost around £10 – £20, depending on duration. Short flights offer excellent training, as each flight must include a launch and landing, which will be relevant to all your flights in future. Longer flights provide more ‘time on the stick’ which helps to develop soaring ( aka ‘staying up’) skills. When training, you may typically take around three short flights, or one long flight, in a day.
There are few age limits relating to gliding. The only specified age is that solo pilots must be aged 14 or more. Any constraints are based on height and weight (due to the glider manufacturers’ specifications) and health considerations. So, young people often learn to fly gliders from the age of 12, with many going solo on their 14th birthday. At the other end of the spectrum, it is not unusual for glider pilots to be flying into their 80’s and beyond.
At the upper end of the age range, the same considerations apply (height, weight, health and agility). Many glider pilots continue flying solo into their 80’s, and possibly later as one of a pair of pilots in a dual control glider.
Camphill is a members’ gliding club, and like most clubs it relies on its members to perform the necessary roles to operate the airfield on any given day. This minimises the amount of paid help that is required, thereby keeping fees as low as possible for its members. We operate a duty rota for the main tasks, with each member required to perform a half-day duty one weekend every four weeks or so. Members on duty will normally stay for most of the day, flying as well as performing their duty.
Every glider pilot is supported by a team of people, who help to get each other into the air. There are quite a few jobs involved; those that are rota’d include:
- Clerking – to keep records of the flights.
- Winching – driving the winch, to launch the gliders.
- Launch Marshall – to run the launch point.
- Instructor – to teach us to fly!
Don’t worry – everyone is taught how to perform these duties before being expected to ‘go solo’ on them! It’s all part of the group activity that we enjoy.
Gliding is a fantastic entry into powered flying. Whilst learning to glide, you will acquire a great deal of knowledge and many skills relevant to power. These range from learning the theory of flight, flying an aircraft, through to understanding weather as it affects pilots, and gaining a radio operator’s license.
This can all be done at ‘hobby’ prices, in your spare time. For youngsters especially, with discounts and bursaries available, gliding is a very cheap entry into a flying career.
Our airfield operates seven days a week, dependent on the weather being suitable for flying. There’s always an instructor on duty, so training is available every day.
Being a member of the club is akin to being part of a mutual support group. Many people and activities are required to make it all happen. So, whilst duties occur every few weeks, there are opportunities to get involved as much as you like. Many members find the club is a fully engaging hobby.
Activities are wide and varied, including: grass cutting (the airfield is a very large lawn!), tractor driving, maintenance of gliders, buildings, vehicles, machinery and our grounds, amongst other tasks. Our members even maintain this website, do the accounting and our legal work!
Whilst previous experience is helpful, we welcome anyone wanting to broaden their horizons and develop new skills.
Part of the joy of gliding is the culture of visiting other sites, aka ‘going on an expedition’. It gives us the chance to fly in new areas, with different topography, weather, and people.
Flying from Camphill, we are spoilt for scenery. Taking an expedition to a flat site though opens up other options – so we have a regular trip to Yorkshire to take advantage of aerotows. We also exploit our hill soaring skills with trips to other nationally renowned ridge and wave sites.
We have reciprocal membership arrangements with others sites where aerotow is the norm. Our members join club expeditions to learn this skill.
Gliding is what we are all about. But there is so much else going on that for some people the gliding is just an excuse to be ‘on the hill’, digging, mowing, mending, teaching, winching, walking, writing, marketing, greeting…
Not to mention the members’ bar!
Absolutely. It is surprising how many of us come to gliding upon retirement, looking for a new lifestyle hobby. Many of us were Air Training Corps (ATC) cadets who’ve finally found the time to devote to flying. Others have developed an interest later in life, with no prior experience of flying.
As long as you are moderately fit and healthy, you should be able to learn to glide and develop new skills for many years ahead.
All gliding clubs seem to name themselves after the site on which they are located, whilst serving a large geographic area. Our club is located on the site of Camphill Farm (itself named after Camphill, the site of an old fort perched at one end of the airfield).