If you've never flown before, don't worry, there are courses designed specifically for ab initio people like you! Probably the best way to find out if you're going to enjoy gliding is to try a Weekend Course. These are run by fully-qualified volunteer instructors and last for two to three days, depending on bank holidays. The IBM Gliding Club recommends these courses for anyone who believes they wish to learn to glide but would like some trial lessons prior to committing a arger amount of money or time. They give you a good appreciation of what gliding is all about.

As an alternative, the Lasham club has a useful Flying Start course. Like the Weekend Course, this provides a personal introduction by providing you with your own personal instructor for the course, which will consist of three flights (two aerotow & one winch launch). The course usually lasts from two to three hours and will give you plenty of opportunities between the flights to talk about the experience and sensations, and what you, as a new pilot would like to do or see next.

To continue training, after a Weekend or Flying Start course, it is a good idea to use the Lasham Gliding Society social membership (included with your Weekend or Flying Start Course). This social membership gives you the benefit of flights at club rates for 28 days, the prospective pilot thereby gets a chance for more flying without being committed to a large investment. A popular next step is the Evening course.

Pilot training is normally started with flights in a two-seater K13 glider. Training continues for 50-70 launches before first solo. The exact number of launches required depends on the student's ability, continuity of flying and the weather.

After your first solo, training continues with a number of further solo and dual flights in the K13 before conversion to a single-seater. At this stage, the IBM club K6 is available to the IBM Gliding Club (IGC) member. Ultimately, the budding pilot progresses from this wooden glider to fly the IBM glass-reinforced plastic (grp) or 'fibre-glass' high performance DG101.

In the UK there is no formal gliding licence. Instead, a system of rating cards is used at Lasham, with different colours indicating level of experience and privileges. Pilots progress through the series of tests and exercises to achieve each of their rating cards.

The Lasham Card System

White card: 15 solos
White card test: aviation law, local flying rules.

Red card: 35 solos, eight aerotows, two half-hour soaring flights
Bronze 'C' flying and theory tests.

Yellow card: 100 solos, 30 hours solo flying, two flights of over two hours each.
Yellow card flying test

Blue card: Silver 'C': a flight of five hours duration, a climb of 1000 metres (3281 feet), and a 50 km cross-country flight; plus two cross-country flights over 100km.

Obviously, the rate of progress will vary for each student but for best results it is essential to fly regularly - preferably every week. Given good weather and reasonable ability, a trainee pilot who starts flying in the Autumn could be flying the IBM K6 by the following Summer.

Gliding provides the budding glider pilot with the opportunity for plenty of exercise. Every pilot is expected to lend a hand with the various tasks involved in maintaining a steady launch rate, especially pushing gliders into position at the launch point.

We hope this gives you a good idea of what gliding with the IGC is all about. Obviously, some of the details included may vary from time to time, therefore the best way to find out the latest, as far as flying deals and latest prices, is to contact one of the committee members and get started by applying now.