Cross Country 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 (available under the library link on this page). These links may be helpful.

The FAA Glider handbook has a good section. Read the first 10 pages here:

More focus on the safety aspects can be found in the BGA Instructor Manual at Chap 6-24 – thermalling

Useful videos include;

This shorter video shows how using software like XCSoar, LK8000, SeeYou Mobile or iGlide can help you with thermalling.

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.

Pilot 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.

All  pilots are encouraged to read the BGA publication ‘Cross Country and Airspace’, which includes easily digested need to know details.   Get in the habit of checking NOTAMs every time you fly.

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.

‘Aim Higher’ is a BGA initiative to encourage and support soaring and cross-country coaching at clubs. The Aim Higher webpage includes a number of resources.

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.