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The Southdown Gliding Club has always been welcoming to visitors and new members alike, one of its biggest plus features. Because we are essentially a voluntary organisation co-ordination of thought and action is not the simplest of matters. This is particularly true when dealing with new arrivals with differing backgrounds in aviation. Question like: do we make every new arrival jump through the same hoops, or do we adjust the system allowing discretion within the training syllabus? Then how would continuity be achieved?


As a potential source of committed new members the professional community is an obvious place to look. Whilst some of them may regard gliding as a busman’s holiday others my think their fancy could be tickled. Assuming we, as a club, believe that encouraging them to join us is a good idea the following thoughts are put forward by Duncan, Damian and Max.


Airline folk & Gliding

Conversion Training for Airline Pilots

By Duncan Stewart

Quite a few experienced commercial pilots come to the club interested in taking up gliding, but many drift away before progressing very far. The BGA training syllabus is designed with ab-initios with zero  flying experience in mind. Insisting that every exercise be performed by experienced pilots may be overkill, but what subset of the  syllabus is needed?  How long does it take to deliver this training in our environment? What differences with powered flight do we need to cover to help CPLs convert to gliding?


Gliding training is spit into 3 parts: Effect of controls, Take-off and Landing, Emergencies. There are some differences and challenges in each part.


Effects of Controls. Of course experienced pilots know the effects of the controls, but there is still the matter of getting the feel of how the glider handles, and the requirement to use rudder to overcome the secondary effect of the ailerons. The first flight in the glider will explore its handling characteristics, how to fly at the speed you want, and how to turn tidily on to the heading you want. Many pilots may have done some gliding in their youth, but even for them, remembering to use your feet in the turn may take a while. Power pilots generally pick an altitude and speed and figure out ways to stick closely to it. Glider pilots are busy constantly climbing or descending and changing their speed. The conversion course will need a discussion about ‘speed to fly’, covering both optimum speeds to deal with the sink and lift during soaring flight, and the appropriate safety margins for launching and landing.

Ed