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A Gliding Glossary

Gliding, like most sports, has its own jargon which can be very confusing to the uninitiated. To help you understand some of the information in our web site, here is a short glossary on some of the words and phrases you might find.


Beginner or trainee.

Aerotow launch.

A launch where the glider is towed airborne by a powered aircraft.


Part of the wing, which is moveable by the pilot in flight, to control the glider in roll.


A moveable part of the wing top surface, used to control the amount of aerodynamic lift generated by the wing.


An instrument in the cockpit that informs the pilot of his/her height above the ground.


Air Speed Indicator. An instrument in the cockpit that tells a pilot at what speed the glider is moving.

Assistant cat.Instructor.

Assistant Category Instructor. An instructor who has less experience than a Full Cat, but who is trained to carry out most instructional duties. We have around twenty Asst. Cat. Instructors at The Wolds G.C.


A system of awards within the gliding world from Bronze badge, through Silver and Gold, to Diamond badge.

Basic instruments.

Basic instrumentation usually consists of an ASI, Altimeter and Simple variometer.


British Gliding Association - The governing body of all UK Gliding Clubs

Basic Instructor.

The Basic Instructor is the first step on the instructing ladder. It allows trained personnel to be P1 during trial lessons for prospective members.

Carbon fibre.

A modern alternative material for the construction of gliders.


Chief Flying Instructor. The person in charge of all flying and safety matters.


That part of all glider flights that is carefully planned in order to be certain that the glider lands in the precise place that the pilot has decided upon.

C of A.

Certificate of Airworthiness. A certificate granted annually by the BGA if the glider has passed a stringent engineering inspection.

Control column.

The main control in the cockpit - commonly known as the "joystick".

Cross country.

A flight that takes a glider out of normal range of its home airfield.


Daily Inspection. A careful inspection on all aircraft, carried out each morning to ensure their airworthiness.


Part of the tail of a glider which is moveable by the pilot to control the glider in pitch.

Full cat. instructor.

Full Category Instructor. An instructor who has the relevant experience and training to qualify as a CFI. We have seven Full Cat. Instructors at the Wolds G.C.

Glide angle.

The angle of descent at which any given glider flies. i.e. if a glider has a glide angle of say 25:1 then it will fly 25 units of distance along for every one unit of height. Therefore the higher the glide angle the higher the performance.


Global Positioning Navigation System. A navigation aid that tell the pilot his position based on signals received from a satellite network.


Glass Re-inforced Plastic. A material of construction of most modern gliders.


Nautical Miles per Hour. 1 nautical mile = 6080ft or 1.85 km.

Launch point.

The place on the airfield where launching is taking place. This changes from day to day depending upon the wind direction.


Any atmospheric condition that causes a glider to gain height.


A powered aircraft, light enough to be classed as a glider but with a small engine fitted for self launching.


Where a glider lands at a place that is not its home airfield i.e. in a field or at another airfield.


Pilot in Charge.


Usually the Co-Pilot or trainee in a Two Seat Glider.


Movement about the lateral axis.


Private Pilots Licence. Only applies if you wish to fly powered aircraft.


To collect a glider and pilot, usually by road, after an outlanding.


To rig a glider is to assemble and fix all the parts of the aircraft together and prepare it for flight. To de-rig is the opposite, and usually to place the parts in its trailer.


Movement about the longitudinal axis.


For our purposes, all gliders.


Sinking air. The opposite of lift.


Extending of a glider flight through use of natural lift such as thermals or wave.


A cross country flight that has been deliberately planned.


A rising column of warm air.


A large road trailer that is used to transport and store de-rigged gliders.


A powered aircraft used to tow gliders airborne.

Turn point.

A pre planned waypoint along a Cross Country route.


An instrument that informs the pilot of the vertical speed of the glider. i.e. the rate of climb or descent.


Velocity Never Exceed. Simply the maximum allowable safe speed of a glider.


An atmospheric condition caused by strong winds blowing over a mountain range e.g. The Pennines. This can sometimes result in strong lift.

Winch Launch.

A launch where the glider is pulled upwards by a cable attached to a winch - can be likened to running with the string of a kite.


Movement about the normal axis.

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