By Benjamin Frank, Germany
Soaring – or gliding- is a revolutionary, competitive air sport. Gliding offers you a special kind of freedom because it is an extravagant sport. As a gliding pilot, you have to learn reading the environment and all their influences. You have to learn to adapt yourself and to make very spontaneous decisions. You have to understand special weather events, for example; glider pilots have to find unique types of clouds or orthographic places where thermals could exist. (If a glider flies into a thermal he will use this potential energy and will climb into the sky)
Thermal is the right keyword, thermals are one of the most important parts in soaring; they help pilots to stay airborne and fly hundreds of kilometers. As already mentioned soaring is a competitive sport, there are a lot of different competitions; the most famous competition is the so called “Racing Task”. In the Racing Task, the pilots have to fly a special route. The fastest pilot wins; the most famous record in soaring is from a German pilot. On 21 January 2003, Klaus Ohlmann flew- without a motor – a record of 3009KM in less than 12 hours. This record was broken with a Schempp Hirth Nimbus 4DM this is a high performance glider, you can see it on this picture:
Of course there are much better gliders than the Nimbus 4DM, for example the so called “Eta”. The Eta is the best glider in the world, only 7 types were made. It has a span of 31 meters, which is unique in this sport:
You can start with soaring of the age of 14. You can find actually everywhere a soaring club with an own airfield, gliding isn’t (compared to other air sports) expensive you have to pay 600 to 3000 $ per season, it depends on how much you fly and witch gliders you use. It becomes cheaper when many people are in you soaring club, because gliders are very expensive. The most expensive glider is the “Eta”, you can buy one for approximately 300.000-4000.000 $, and of course, you have to pay more than this, you have to pay upkeep and and and…
If this article has inspired you, you can start with this awesome air sport pretty simple! In the first months of flying, you only have to fly with your teacher, bit by bit they will teach you how to fly a glider. After some months and approximately 60 starts with your teacher, you can fly alone. Before you’ll get your global soaring pilot license (SPL) you have to make 300-600 starts by your own, also you have to make complex theoretical test and difficult practical tests. After these efforts you can fly alone, and the first time with passengers, and, of course, you can fly all over the world with nearly all types of gliders.
Thanks for reading!
Now you can take a look at some pictures about soaring/gliding.