Unlike most forms of aviation, there are no formal exams to sit before you fly solo in a glider, all the training is done in the air, so on a typical day at Lasham, you will put your name on the flying list, go to the morning briefing, get the gliders out and get flying!
At first your instructor will handle the takeoffs and landings, introducing the controls and elements of the flying as quickly or as slowly as you can handle. After about 10-15 flights most people are doing the takeoffs and landings themselves, with the instructor there to help when needed and teach more advanced exercises like circuit planning, cable breaks (not as scary as it sounds!) and thermalling.
Normally you will do 3 flights with an instructor per day, on the first flight they will try introduce something new, second flight you practise more and on the third flight you should be polishing it off! Once you have flown you can put your name down to fly again, and you can often do 6-9 flights a day! Your progress is recorded in your logbook by your instructor so your next instructor knows what you need to work on.
You keep flying with instructors as your flying improves, bringing in new aspects of flying, making sure your flying is improving, and when your instructors feel you can handle the aircraft yourself (normally between 50 and 80 flights, depending on how often you fly), it’s time for the instructor to get out and secure the straps in the back and for you to go solo!
What do I do when I’m not flying?
The reason gliding is so cheap compared to power flying is that hardly anyone is employed at a gliding club – the instructors and helpers on the airfield are all volunteers. When you are flying, other club members are helping you, and it is expected that you will do the same when you are on the ground. This is not hard work, and is part of the fun, it is also a good way to get to know people. Jobs include retrieving gliders (on cool little buggies), hooking on launch cables, launch signalling and much more.