What is Gliding?
Gliding can be best described as an activity that involves flying unpowered and non-motorized aircraft that leverage the power of air currents and create the ability to soar. It is both a recreational activity and a competitive sport that dates back as far as the 1920’s when there was a need to look for ways to increase the length and duration of flights.
Competitive gliding involves flying and soaring on pre-defined and designed courses. The intention is to navigate tricky courses as well as combat the elements and natural/ weather conditions. Skills are tested as well in terms of overall ability to fly, agility, etc. There are national and regional competitions and there are also World Gliding Championships that are held every other year. Pilots are able to use GPS to navigate and find their way around.
In order to launch the glider, pilots use powered aircraft or land-based winches. There are gliding clubs that have the equipment and the means to help pilots do so and also to train new pilots. These have long been used but technology has made the process more efficient and precise.
Gliding clubs provide and enforce safety regulations, but the regulation of the sport is actually the responsibility of government.
Risks of Gliding
Gliding is not for everyone and does present several risks to those who choose to partake:
- Falling- there is always the risk of falling from high heights and injuring oneself.
- Those with heart issues- gliding can be dangerous for those who have heart issues and problems as it can cause issues with blood flow.
- Joint and bone issues- those who have osteoporosis or the symptoms of osteoarthritis may not be well suited for gliding as landing can be bumpy, falls are likely and those with brittle or bone issues would be at risk of serious injury.
- Collisions- collisions with other flyers or gliders is possible when flying in the same space.
Training requirements for becoming a certified or capable pilot or glider differ from region to region. Common and standard between regions is the requirement for prospective and rookie pilots to fly with an experienced pilot and must do so for a specific, defined amount of time (often a minimum number of hours) before being permitted to fly short distances.
Where to Glide?
Gliding is practiced and available to those interested in pursuing it as a sport and those who may just want to try it once and everyone in between. It is available all over the world but some specific places to catch some great scenery and some bucket-list gliding locations include places like Switzerland, Austria, USA, and various Caribbean countries. It is a great way to see a country or region if and when traveling or visiting just for fun.