Learning to Fly: Frequently Asked Questions
Can I fly if the air is calm?
Once the glider releases from the tow plane, it flies through the air slowly losing height as it does so. In free flight, the glider pilot is can recognize if there is wind (air is moving relative to the ground) or thermals and adjust the flight to accommodate it.
Do I have to wait until it is a hot day?
No. The 'thermals' (raising air pockets that help gliders gain altitude) are created as a difference of temperature on the ground related to its surroundings. Cold days are just as capable of generating thermals as hot days.
You can't fly if it's windy
Actually there's no problem flying through air that is itself moving along at high speed, for the same reasons as described above. However we usually restrict flying to days where the wind is blowing at 30 knots or less - it makes the gliders easier to manage on the ground and the glider will not drift so far while circling in a thermal.
Gliders can't travel very far
How far an individual glider pilot can fly is determined by the weather, their glider, their skill and some luck. On days when there is a lot of rising air, it's not uncommon for gliders based at SOSA to fly a triangle similar to London and Owen Sound and then back covering 500 kilometres.
Gliders can't travel very fast
You'd be surprised ! Our Duo Discus two-seater glider, which we use for cross country and advanced training, has a maximum speed of 263 km/h ! - although usually we tend to fly somewhat slower, at around 100 km/h or so.
You need to be super-fit, super-strong, have perfect eyesight etc.
Actually no. The medical requirements for gliding are roughly comparable to those required for driving. If you can safely drive a car, you can probably fly !
How do you get the glider into the air?
At SOSA we now use 2 methods of launching gliders; By aerotow, we tow the glider behind one of our 3 powered aircraft. The other method is using our winch that launches the glider similar to winding in a kite string but with the ability for the glider to release the tow chord when the highest altitude is reached, about 1000 feet.
Flying a glider is expensive
It's not free, but gliding is certainly good value for money! Once you're qualified, renting a glider costs about $60 per hour plus about $35 for towing the glider to altitude. Renting a single-engine aircraft could cost 2 times this. Check out our prices and compare them to the costs of powered flying - you'll be pleasantly surprised. Many people learn to fly first in gliders and then use these skills to shorten their powered-flight training time. Most new members spend about $3500 in their first year at SOSA.