So, you want to learn how to fly?

The Gliding Club of WA can most certainly help you achieve your dreams. As a member of the club, you will be entitled to undertake lessons with our amazing group of instructors, who will guide you through the process of learning to fly a glider safely and professionally. All of our instructors are volunteers and club members, and they donate their time just to see people experience the joys of flying.

Anyone can fly. No matter your age or background, we can help you get in the air. We have had members go solo at just 15 years of age, (the lowest age at which this is legally possible); and we have members who are still flying beyond 90 years of age! In association with Soarability arrangements can be made to assist anyone with disabilities to experience the thrill of flight and even to learn to fly.

Learning at GCWA has many advantages. Cunderdin Airfield has two large tarmac runways, safely approachable with the wind from any direction. We have no trees or other obstructions near the runways, making wind conditions predictable and landing approaches easier to judge. Plus, we’ve got a great bunch of experienced instructors who will work with you to ensure that you learn in a safe, supportive environment – and that you have fun!

Learning to fly a glider – while not at all difficult – requires some time, persistence, and dedication. The more effort you put into it and the more regularly you undertake lessons, the quicker you’ll progress. Progression is competency based. You will need to learn to display particular skills consistently and competently while demonstrating good decision-making choices and safe behaviours. The Australian syllabus includes the following fundamentals:

  • Orientation flights demonstrating the third dimension and introducing the different sights and sounds that will be encountered.
  • Lookout awareness. Look and see. The limitations of human vision.
  • Ground handling of the glider, launch procedure and signals.
  • Orientation in flight and sailplane stability.
  • Pre-take-off checks. ABCD and CHAOTIC.
  • Primary effects of controls and the effects of banking.
  • Aileron drag and rudder co-ordination.
  • Sustained turning flight and the effects of all controls.
  • Lookout procedures in turning and level flight.
  • Straight flight at various speeds and trimming the glider.
  • Pre-landing checks.
  • Slow flight and stalling. Never low and slow.
  • Launch and release procedures.
  • Radio and FLARM (a device used to show proximity of other gliders) use.
  • Take-off.
  • Circuit joining and planning.
  • Thermalling and thermal centring techniques.
  • Thermal entry.
  • Soaring with other gliders.
  • Landing approach and landing.
  • Spinning.
  • Crosswind take-offs and landings.
  • Launch emergencies.
  • Flying with other gliders and aircraft.
  • Rules of the air.
  • Human factors.
  • Threat and error management.
  • First solo flight.

Our instructors will help you master all of this (and more!) during your learning journey via a number of hands-on one-on-one lessons tailored to your ability and progress, in a two-seat training glider. Training does not end at the first solo. It is one step in progressing to a GPC (Glider Pilot Certificate). There is much more to learn beyond that, with many valuable skills to be acquired as you continue to learn and engage in the joys of soaring flight, move into single-seat gliders, and ultimately take on the greatest of soaring experiences – cross-country flight.

If you want a head start on the theory and to get a good idea of what you’ll need to know, we encourage our new members, and anyone else who is interested, to download a copy of the manual Australian Gliding Knowledge, provided by Gliding Australia. The AGK manual details much of the theory that you’ll need to get to grips with in a very readable format that is simple to understand and will greatly help you during your lessons.