CORONAVIRUS INFORMATION (updated 18/5/2020)
Unfortunately, although lockdown regulations now permit private aviation, we do not expect to recommence operations before 30th May, and social distancing rules still only allow for solo flying.
We are therefore not yet able to offer Trial Lessons. Please contact us for advice before purchasing a voucher, or if you have a voucher which you were hoping to use in the near future.
For the time being, the club is open only to club members. Please do not come to the airfield.
If you’d like to see what flying a glider is like, please come along anytime we’re flying. We fly most weekends and bank holidays. Weather permitting, we’ll fit you in for an initial gliding trial lesson as soon as we can. We also fly most Wednesdays, but lessons cannot be guaranteed on this day. One flight of up to 15 minutes* duration costs just £45. Flights can be extended or additional flights provided, as long as weather conditions, demands on aircraft and instructor’s time permit.
- Flight time: up to 30 minutes
- Number of flights: 1
- If the first flight is short a second flight will be given
- Flight time: up to 15 minutes
- Number of flights: 1
- This single flight is available at the airfield on the day
We cannot process debit or credit cards at the airfield, so please bring cash or a cheque.
Alternatively, you can book gliding trial lessons consisting of a flight of approximately 30 minutes*, or two flights if the first is short (due to weather conditions for example) for £80. To arrange a date and time for your lesson at Shalbourne, please contact us to make a booking. Bookings are accepted for Weekends and Bank Holidays.
Through the summer bookable slots are generally fully booked for about 6 weeks ahead.
All gliding trial lessons and courses include a period of introductory membership during which flying is charged at members’ rates. Also, if you subsequently join the club, your membership can be back-dated to the date of your Initial Lesson and the cost of the lesson used to offset your full membership fee.
Gliding gift vouchers
If you would like to buy a voucher (as a present perhaps) please see the gliding gift vouchers page.
Trial Lesson Evenings
Our trial lesson evenings are aimed at groups. We can arrange a weekday evening session in the summer (late April – early August) which gives the group exclusive use of the facilities. Prices are based on a minimum of 10 flights @ £35 each; discounts are available for youth groups. For details contact us here.
What to expect from a gliding trial lesson
If you’re wondering what will happen on the day, this section gives a comprehensive explanation from arriving on-site to all the stages of your flight.
Entering the airfield
Before entering the airfield follow the instructions displayed at the gate. This will lead you safely to where the gliders are launching. Always keep to the edge of the field and keep a good look-out for aircraft, vehicles and cables. If in doubt wait to be escorted to the launch point.
Height and weight limitations
You can fly in our 2 seater gliders as long as you weigh no more than 16 stone (101Kg). There is also an upper height restriction of 6’4″ (193cm). If you’re above this height and have extra long legs you may still be able to sit in one of our gliders. You’re welcome to come up to the airfield and try one for size.
What to wear
Please wear casual, comfortable clothing. Rivar Hill is a field site and when you’re not climbing in an out of gliders you will spend your time by the launch point in the field. Ladies should wear flat shoes and we suggest you don’t wear skirts.
Airfields are generally very exposed places and if it’s windy, can feel cold even in summer. In the warmer months you should wear sun block, but bring a jacket just in case it’s windy. In winter it’s best to wear warm, windproof clothing, as well as a hat and gloves. It’s best to bring more layers than you need and leave them in the car if you get too hot.
Before you get into the glider you can shed a layer as it will be much warmer under the perspex canopy. Sunglasses are recommended all year round.
Waiting to fly
If you turn up on spec you may have to wait a short while until an instructor and a glider become available. You could use this time to chat to the club members about the aircraft and they will be keen to show you around one of the gliders.
Getting into the glider
Your trial lesson will be in one of the club’s two seater training aircraft. You will be sitting in the front seat and your instructor in the back. When you climb into the glider your instructor will tell you which parts you can and cannot touch. You’ll then fasten your straps to make sure you’re secure for the flight.
All gliders at Rivar Hill are launched by winch. The launch point is at one end of the field and the winch at the other. Gliders are attached to the cable and the powerful winch engine reels in almost a mile of cable, launching the glider typically to 1,600 feet in the air.
After some pre-flight checks your instructor will ask the ground crew to connect the winch cable. The launch point will then signal the winch and the glider will accelerate rapidly forward. After a short ground run the glider will be airborne, gradually pitching up.
In less than a minute the glider will reach the top of the launch and gradually level off. You may hear a sudden noise at this stage as the cable releases itself from the glider. This is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about. The glider will now be flying free of the winch.
After the launch your instructor, flying from the rear seat, will probably start searching for thermal lift to extend your flight time. If successful, after a short climb, turning in a thermal, your instructor may ask you if you’d like to take control. Your first exercise will be to try to fly straight and level, maybe followed by some gentle turns.
If you fly into a thermal you may hear the vario bleeping. The bleeping noise indicates rising air. At this point your instructor may take back control of the aircraft and start to turn in the thermal to gain height.
When it’s time to land your instructor will fly a circuit around the airfield and gently bring the glider into land under perfect control, just like a powered aeroplane.
A typical Gliding Trial Lesson Evening experience at Shalbourne can be viewed by running this YouTube video: