Trial Lessons

How does a trial lesson work?

Trial lessons with a qualified BGA instructor are available all year round in one of our two-seater aircraft. There are several ways to purchase a trial lesson:

a)     A trial lesson voucher costs £60. You can redeem the voucher whenever it suits you within the next 12 months, and with a phone call prior to attending the club we will endeavour to make an appointment to fly you at a specific time (or as near as the weather will allow.) A £60 voucher will give you a flight of around 20 -25 minutes, plus 12 weeks membership for the club so you can come back as often as you like within that time and fly as a club member. Note we do not, normally, give refunds on vouchers. For details of trial lesson vouchers please email Graham Rendell  using this link.

b)     Alternatively you can get together with friends or colleagues and come as a group. We accommodate prearranged group bookings on Tuesday or Thursday evenings (minimum of 6) The price for block bookings is forty five pounds per head. Twelve weeks club membership is included in the package. For group bookings ring Pete Desmond on 07702 846123  

c)     You can of course just turn up on any day we are operating and ask to fly. The terms are exactly the same as for the voucher at (a) but turning up with no advance warning can often involve waiting for some time for an aircraft and instructor to come free. You will however be made most welcome and we will do our best to accommodate you.

How long does a trial lesson last?

The average time we aim to fly visitors to the club is around 20 25 minutes. However, gliding is a weather dependent sport and if we are unable to stay airborne for as long as we would wish due to the weather conditions, we will offer two shorter flights as an alternative. How easy is it to fly a glider? It is not as hard as you might think. If you can drive a car, you are more than likely to be able to master flying a glider. There is no standard number of flights, flying hours or specified length of time to learn to fly, but typically as a student pilot approaches 70 80 launches they will be nearing solo standard.

Is it expensive?

    That all depends on personal circumstances, but compared with the costs associated with powered aircraft, gliding is a very cheap form of flying and the Bowland Forest club is one of the cheapest gliding clubs in the country. There is an annual subscription of 220 pounds. All instruction is free of charge and you pay a launch fee and a per minute rate for the length of time you remain in the air. As an indication, a flight lasting 1 hour currently costs club members 20.

Are there any health restrictions?

    Pilots have to sign a declaration to say they are in good health and are fit to fly and this has to be countersigned by their GP. The standard is basically the same as fitness to drive a car. There are certain medical conditions specified by the BGA that pilots must disclose if and when they arise, which will need to be checked out with their GP to determine their continued fitness to fly.

What weather can you not fly in?

    As long as it is not raining or extremely windy we can usually fly. Reading the weather is a complicated business but the following tips might be useful to help you interpret the weather forecast and decide whether or not to come and fly with us: Days with a steady breeze are the most reliable to produce lift. The best gliding days are when the wind is from the West or the East, blowing at around 10 to 15 mph. Slightly lighter or stronger winds are flyable, and we can operate in winds all the way round from NW through South to NE. A strong (20mph) wind from the NE or SW is directly crosswind to the runway and will usually halt flying operations. We can actually fly on all wind directions but northerly winds are the most problematic and we will usually only be able to fly short flights in this wind direction. Classic calm, hot summer days can be very good, but they can equally be very disappointing. Cloudless blue skies with not much wind will rarely produce good gliding conditions. Warm sunny days with plenty of fluffy clouds in the sky usually means there is plenty of lift about. [How does it fly without an engine?] Finally, a note about the flying field. During the winter months particularly, we can be limited as much by the ground as the weather and if it has been very wet for a long period, we sometimes have to suspend flying because of the soft ground even when the weather seems quite promising.

What happens when the wind stops?

    A question many people ask, but the clue is in the title, we carry on gliding! Gliders do not need wind to fly although a good breeze provides a useful source of lift for extended flights in the air currents pushed up and over the nearby hills. A moderately breezy day is usually a good gliding day, but we can often stay airborne for long flights using just thermal lift when there is little or no wind.

How does it fly without an engine?
    Powered aircraft use the engine to propel themselves forward and upwards into the sky. Gliders have no engine and so have to get up high by other means. At Chipping we tow our gliders into the air using a winch. Some clubs use powered aircraft to tow them into the air. Once in the air at a sufficient height, the tow rope is released and the glider begins to gently glide down towards the ground. Gliders will soon be back on the ground unless they find lift.
    Simply put, lift is just air that is rising upwards. Lift is produced in many ways, by a breeze against the side of a hill and air being pushed upward (Hill lift)
    Lift can also be produced on warm days when the ground heats up and the warm air begins to rise upwards (Thermal lift) 
    Lift can also be found when the air travels up and over distant mountain ranges and begins to bounce off the ground, rather like flicking a long piece of washing line on the floor (Wave lift)
    Pilots can recognise all these sources of lift by reading the sky and cloud formations Whichever source of lift is available, if gliders fly into rising air and stay within it, they will go up, often at the rate of several hundred feet per minute. Imagine walking the wrong way down an up escalator that is switched off. You would soon get to the bottom. If part way down someone switched the escalator on, you would continue walking down, but would very quickly be carried back up to the top again. Gliding works on the same principle.

What happens when you join the club?

    As a member of BFGC you will receive continual training as a pilot, from complete novice up to solo standard - and beyond. Some members are content to fly in close proximity to the airfield either on their own or with an instructor, while some wish to venture further afield and push for personal bests in height or distances flown. Whatever your aspirations, the club will be happy to cater for you. In most cases, (very often after a trial lesson has whetted the appetite), new members will wish to join the club and start on the road towards solo flying.
    The card system is at the heart of safety and pilots progress through a number of stages of training. Safety is paramount and the duty instructor will determine what card pilots must hold to fly solo on that particular day. For example, if the wind is quite strong, instructors might only allow the more experienced card holders to fly on their own without an instructor. That way, pilots are always flying within the limitations of their individual experience and abilities.

Pre solo card
This is the first card issued to new members. All flying is done with an instructor who will work through the full range of skill requirements to take you up to solo standard. Once solo you will be issued with a White card
White card
    White card pilots are those who are newly qualified. Before flying solo on any given day they are required to have a check flight with an instructor. White card pilots work through a range of flying exercises they have to demonstrate to instructors before progressing to:
Red card
    Red card pilots are more experienced and can fly solo without a check flight, but they must have a verbal briefing from the duty instructor. Check flights are mandatory if red card pilots have not flown in the last 4 weeks. Again they progress through a number of flying exercises before progressing to:
Yellow card
Yellow card pilots are more experienced and can fly solo after a ground briefing. Currency check flight requirements are extended to 6 weeks. A series of more demanding tasks and exercises will progress to:
Blue card
These are the most experienced pilots who can self brief and fly solo with only minimal oversight by the duty instructor.

As pilots progress through the card system they continue to undergo free training to achieve BGA bronze, silver, gold and diamond height, distance and duration awards. Some will progress to become instructors.

As a club member you will be expected to play a full part in various rotas, driving the winch, managing the launch point, instructing, maintaining ground equipment and aircraft. Playing a full part in the running of the club not only builds a great club atmosphere, but also helps us to minimize costs and keep our fees amongst the lowest of any gliding club in the UK.