Cross Country and Soaring

Qualified glider pilots regularly plan and fly cross-country tasks during which they use their experience and soaring skills to exploit rising air and make effective use of their glider’s performance. To many glider pilots, cross-country flying is the main reason they take part in the sport.

How to improve your soaring skills…

Pilots who want to try or are new to cross-country flying should seek advice. Coaching may be available at your club, or by arrangement with another club nearby.

The soaring techniques and skills needed to be a successful cross-country pilot can be gained while flying within gliding range of the airfield. And of course much can be learned through reading. There are plenty of excellent publications available, including relevant articles in Sailplane & Gliding magazine.

This video seminar by Mike Fox discusses effective thermalling techniques.

The FAA Glider handbook is helpful. Read the chapter 10 here.

‘The Soaring Engine’ series and Soaring Adventure are also recommended.

Read more about soaring coaching here.

Of course there is no substitute for getting in the air and practicing, practicing and practicing a bit more. And most importantly, please don’t forget that lookout is your highest priority – lookout for at least 80% of the time when flying and don’t allow yourself to be distracted by cockpit equipment. Read more about collision avoidance here.

Airspace Responsibilities

We share the sky with many other users, so please do take time to understand your responsibilities as a pilot. Please take a look at the information on the Airspace webpage.

Comparing performance

While many pilots are quite content to compete against nature, many others choose to fly cross country in competition with other pilots too. You can learn more about cross country competitions elsewhere on this website. The online ‘BGA Ladder’, where individual pilots can upload details of their flight, the flight is scored automatically and the result can be viewed publicly, is an excellent way of comparing cross-country performance against other pilots.

BGA and FAI Sporting Achievement

The BGA and the international organisation, the FAI, award a series of sporting achievement badges and diplomas. You can learn more here.

Field Landings

Glider pilots do not usually plan to land anywhere other than an airfield. However, they need to be prepared for a field landing. More information is available on the Field Landing webpage.

Task Setting

Setting the right task can make all the difference to the enjoyment and success of a cross-country flight. Learn more here.

Turning Points and other Data

It’s important to maintain any data files used to plan flights and during flight. Turning point and other data is available here.