If you’d like to see what flying a glider is like, come along anytime when we’re flying: at weekends and bank holidays provided the weather is good and 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). One flight of up to 15 minutes* duration is just £40. Flights can be extended or additional flights provided, as long as weather conditions and other demands on aircraft and instructor’s time permit. However, please note that 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 £75. 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. Please note 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 when you arrive on-site to all the stages of your flight.
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. If you bring more layers than you think you need, you can always leave them in your car if you’re 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.
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.
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 if you ask them nicely they should be able 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. You will climb in, being careful not to touch the delicate parts of the aircraft. Don’t worry, your instructor will tell you which parts you can and can’t touch. You’ll then fasten your straps to make sure you’re secure in the aircraft.
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 into what may seem like a very steep climb. If you look ahead, all you will see is sky at this stage. If you find this unnerving, try looking down and to the side to see the ground.
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 beeping. The beeping 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 the glider gets down to an altitude of around 1,000ft your instructor will prepare to return to the airfield and land. When the glider is about 1 mile from the landing area and 800ft in altitude (the High Key area), the instructor will fly downwind back towards the launch point. On the downwind leg the glider will lose height and at around 600ft will be at the Low Key area.
The glider will make three more turns, the diagonal, base and final turn before heading back into wind. On the final approach the glider will be pitched down towards the ground and the airbrakes used to control the rate of descent onto the runway. Just above the ground the glider will round out, flying parallel to the ground before gently touching down. This is followed by a gentle ground run, before the glider comes to a complete stop.
A typical Gliding Trial Lesson Evening experience at Shalbourne can be viewed by running this YouTube video: