Black Mountains Gliding Club

Learn to fly

How to start, physical and mental requirements and likely cost

The club



Cross country

Visiting pilots

Learning to fly a sailplane is to embark on a lifetime of pleasure. Flying is a privilege for the relative few who decide to commit themselves to the learning process.

At the Black Mountains Gliding Club we aim to maximise your air time, so you learn quickly and efficiently. You are taken through a training schedule, which allows both you and your instructors to monitor your progress through to solo.

Your airtime will be greater than most locations because the local terrain provides good ridge soaring potential. Training flights are typically 45 to 60 minutes, which means you get more time to practice than many locations.

By the time you are sent solo, you will be able to act as pilot in command, undertake pre-flight inspections, handle aircraft correctly on the ground, assist with airfield operations, take off, land and deal with in flight emergencies.

The trial lesson

We always recommend you take a trial lesson, prior to learning to fly. This is an opportunity for you to meet the instructors and confirm you will enjoy flying sailplanes. You will also be able to chat with other students and get an undiluted opinion of the club.

Already a member of another gliding club

No problem, book yourself in for some training under our reciprocal arrangements.


It is difficult to provide an exact cost to solo, factors like weather and pilot aptitude play a major part. However, providing you put the time and effort in, you may expect to be solo in 40-60 launches. 2-3 launches a day is possible on a course.

Joining the soaring scheme is normally a good move. The soaring scheme is a prepayment of club glider hire charges for 12 months. You can then fly as many hours as you wish with no further hire charges.

Item Approximate
Club membership 150
Soaring scheme 450
50 launches 1000
Tuition nil
Books and sundries 40
Total 1,640


It is up to you to a large extent. Devoting a week to intensive training will move you along quickly, the occasional visit to the gliding club will mean you make slower progress.

Joining a gliding club

Joining a club requires some commitment from you. Several people are involved in getting a sailplane airborne, and so we must help each other. The hangar must be unpacked in the morning, equipment inspected. During the day records must be kept, aircraft launched and recovered from the runways and the tow-plane refuelled. At the end of the day, the equipment must be safely stored away. You will be expected to learn how to do these things and assist.

As a rule of thumb, be available to unpack or pack the hangar, and assist on the field for a couple of hours a day. If everyone does this, the club operates smoothly and efficiently.

Personal requirements, health, size and weight

Generally, if you are fit enough to drive a car, you are fit enough to fly. Before you fly solo your GP must sign a certificate to that effect. Instructors must meet a slightly higher standard. Because of the size of the aircraft, 16 stone (about 100 kg) is the maximum allowable (clothed) weight, and 6 ft 4in the maximum height. If you are near to these limits you should discuss it with your instructor.

Study requirements

Ground briefings are given, but it pays to read up a little in the quiet of your own home. Several books are available; Beginning Gliding by Derek Piggot is a good solid reference book (normally available from the library).