About Gliding

Gliding is a recreational activity and competitive air sport in which pilots fly unpowered aircraft known as gliders using naturally occurring currents of rising air in the atmosphere to remain airborne.



Glider pilots can stay airborne for hours and travel hundreds of kilometers by flying through rising air called lift such as:

  • Thermal  Lift - updrafts of warm air;
  • Ridge Lift - found where the wind blows against the face of a hill and is forced to rise
  • Wave lift - standing waves in the atmosphere, analogous to the ripples on the surface of a stream.

Finding and flying in lift is known as soaring, while easy to learn it takes a lifetime to master. Finding the best lift, allowing you to fly further and faster than other pilots can gives you the competitive edge in the sport. 

As gliders cannot lauch themselves we use two main methods to get into the air.

  • Winch Launch - using a cable to drag the glider into the air allows launches of 1,000 to 2,000 ft cheaply
  • Aerotow Launch - towing the glider behind a powered aircraft is more expensive but allows launches of 2,000 to 5,000 ft.

Learning to Fly

You do not need any prior experience to start gliding, most people are able to learn the basics and have their first solo flight in under a year. All clubs in the UK teach to the same syllabus set by the British Gliding Association. After going solo and additional training you can gain a pilots licence.

If you would like to know more about the syllabus and gliding theory see our pilots area.


The Club

CUGC fly from Gransden Lodge Airfield 12 miles outside Cambridge. The airfield is open every day during the summer and on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday during the winter. We organise regular lifts to the airfield or you can take a bus or cycle

Route to GRL


Gliding is one of the cheapest ways to fly. Come for one of our Trial flights for £25. If you choose to take up gliding there is an annual membership and flying fees. You can enjoy a good day's gliding on £30 - 40.


Gliding has an excelent safety record. It is much safer than common activities such as cycling, driving, or skiing. In an event of an emergency all pilots wear parachutes.

Competition Finish

A modern glider coming into land, the mist behind the glider is water ballast being dumped