What is Gliding?

Gliding involves flying unpowered aircraft using the same naturally occurring currents of air that birds use to fly. Using these invisible currents of air, you can soar to great heights and travel great distances around the country at average speeds of over 100 miles per hour.

Gliders are similar to normal aircraft, just without an engine. We exploit rising air in the atmosphere to stay airborne – at least that’s the idea! People glide for many reasons. Some use it as a stepping stone to a full pilots licence, but the real joy of gliding is when it’s treated as a sport.

How do gliders stay airborne?


These are bubbles of rising air caused by the sun unevenly heating the ground (think of a lava lamp!). This the most common kind of lift we see.

Ridge Lift

This is caused by air being pushed upwards when it blows towards a slope. We fly along the ridge to exploit this.

Mountain Wave

These are currents of air that rise over the top of mountains and then sink back down and rebound up, this can continue for hundreds of miles.