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Quietly whistling around the clouds and with the potential to fly for several hours, gliding is an exhilarating and affordable way to learn to fly. Some 40% of the annual flying by scouts is in gliders.

The main forms of launching a glider are by winch or aero-tow. The former is generally cheaper but unless the weather is providing plenty of lift, it may be a very quick flight. Also the launch is quite dramatic and could be frightening for a nervous young person. An aero-tow will take the glider to far higher altitude, which generally gives a long flight, with the chance for the scout to try the controls and get a first real flying lesson. Some gliding clubs additionally use a powered glider (or 'self-launching' glider). This has a small motor, which is used to gain altitude and then switched off in order to fly as a glider. This device can also be used to extend the range on cross-country flights.

There is always a job for enthusiastic and well-disciplined scouts to do, such as retrieving gliders after landing. However there is an amount of time to be spent awaiting your turn, and airfields can be very exposed to the weather. Generally gliding is more suited to the oldest scouts and explorers, who can start learning to fly. Some providers specialise in providing a scout package, linking the aeronautics badge with a half-day gliding course.

How to run/provide gliding

There are 2 ways of running Gliding in Scouting. These are:

  1. Scout-led activity - running gliding yourself or using someone else in Scouting

  2. Externally-led activity - running gliding using an external provider

Useful links

The National Governing Body for gliding is:

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