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I had my first gliding lesson yesterday.

What did I think of it? WONDERFUL!!!!

For years I’ve driven past the East Sussex Gliding Club and told myself that I must go in and investigate. And at last I’ve done it!

Gliders were flying from Firle in the 1930s. The Gliding Club started on Firle Beacon in 1974. Then it split into two clubs when it moved to Parham, West Sussex.

Some of the members had a long journey to go there, so they formed the East Sussex Gliding Club in Ringmer, which is where I went.

The field was a turf farm, so it has no topsoil. The Club has bought the field.

Gliding 1 063 (Small)They also own four 2-seater gliders, two single-seat, two ‘tug’ planes and one motorised glider.

So what’s the difference between a motorised glider and a plane?

You can turn off a motorised glider’s engine, or let it tick over, and just glide!

Apart from the Club’s gliders, there are also 30 private gliders, and a motorised glider.

The owners can glide when they want to.

In a Club glider, you have to pay for the launch and gliding time. A private member only pays for the launch.

Gliding 1 075 (Small)Of course, unlike planes, you don’t have a massive fuel bill or landing fees, so it’s much, much cheaper to glide.

Guess what? There aren’t many female members. I can’t understand why. It’s a lovely, rewarding hobby.

I met Roland, who was folding a parachute. It takes him two hours to do one parachute!

He’s the only Club member who has parachuted out of a glider!

You have to push the glider’s canopy up, then you can have a strong wind in your face so you have to move fast; undo the harness, climb over the side and jump, pulling the parachute open immediately.

Gliding 1 077 (Small)In a plane, you count to five, to get away from the propeller, etc. But as a glider flies at a lower height, you have to pull immediately.

My instructor was Peter Kilkelly, who started flying gliders at the age of 16, then he flew commercial planes.

To our amazement, we discovered that we’d both worked for Dan-Air!

He was a pilot and I was an air hostess. It’s a small world!

The gliders have either a Winch or an Aerotow launching.

The winch is parked at the far end of the field and a cable pulls the glider up to 1,000-1200ft. From there, you can find thermals to lift you higher. But the flight normally lasts from 5-10 minutes.

Gliding 1 078 (Small)The Aerotow launch is a launch behind one of the Club’s ‘tug’ aircrafts. It lifts the glider up to 2,000-5,000 ft. This gives plenty of time to find a thermal, and usually lasts around 20-40 minutes.

Today I was having a Winch flight.

Unlike planes that climb gradually, the glider took off like a rocket, practically vertically!

I’m never going to get fed up with that sensation. It’s fantastic!

Why on earth aren’t there more women involved? Who needs men with an exciting hobby like this?!!!!

The views above the Ringmer countryside were marvellous. We often don’t appreciate what a beautiful country we live in, and how much countryside there is!

Gliding 1 083 (Small)There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, which makes the views even more stunning and colourful, but unfortunately it isn’t the best conditions for gliding as clouds produce thermals.

I had an equal share of flying the glider. It reacts instantly to any change of direction.

Peter banked the plane and aimed it towards the Gliding Club field. He landed it like a feather, with not the slightest bump.

Quite honestly, I wasn’t aware of the fact that we had no engine. It was like flying in a plane.

The tractor came along to tow the glider off the middle of the field after we’d got out of the cockpit.

Gliding 1 084 (Small)Everyone was very friendly and made me very welcome.

I’ve found a new hobby and I’ll be joining the Club and flying regularly.

I can hardly wait for my next flight, which will be an Aerotow!

Watch out for further articles about my gliding progress, and what goes on in the Club.

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A single winch launch costs £30.

An Aerotow to 2,500 ft costs £99.

A Motorglider flight costs £99.

For further membership details, contact

East Sussex Gliding Club

Kitson Field

The Broyle


East Sussex


01825 840347


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