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Bowland Forest Gliding Club
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Enjoy the excitement as you strap into one of our dual-controlled gliders with a qualified instructor.

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How does a glider fly without an engine?

     Powered aircraft use an engine to propel themselves forward and upwards into the sky. Gliders have no engine and so have to get up high by other means. At Chipping we tow our gliders into the air using a winch. Some clubs use powered aircraft to tow them into the air. Once in the air at a sufficient height, the tow rope is released and the glider begins to gently glide down towards the ground. Gliders will soon be back on the ground unless they find lift.

     Simply put, lift is just air that is rising upwards. Lift is produced in many ways.  It can be created by a breeze against the side of a hill, with air being pushed upward. (Hill lift)

     Lift can also be produced on warm days when the ground heats up and the warm air begins to rise upwards. (Thermal lift)  

     Lift can also be found when the air travels up and over mountain ranges and begins to bounce off the ground, rather like flicking a long piece of washing line on the floor. (Wave lift)

     Pilots can recognise all these sources of lift by ‘reading’ the sky and cloud formations. Whichever source of lift is available, if gliders fly into rising air and stay within it, they will go up, often at the rate of several hundred feet per minute. Imagine walking the wrong way down an ‘up’ escalator that is switched off. You would soon get to the bottom. If part way down someone switched the escalator on, you would continue walking down, but would very quickly be carried back up to the top again. Gliding works on the same principle.

What weather can you not fly in?

As long as it is not raining or extremely windy, we can usually fly. Reading the weather is a complicated business, but the following tips might be useful to help you interpret the weather forecast and decide whether or not to come and fly with us:  Days with a steady breeze are the most reliable to produce lift. The best gliding days are when the wind is from the West or the East, blowing at around 10 to 15 mph.  Slightly lighter or stronger winds are flyable and we can operate in winds all the way round from NW through South to NE. A strong (20mph) wind from the NE or SW is directly crosswind to the runway and will usually halt flying operations. We can actually fly in all wind directions, but northerly winds are the most problematic and we will usually only be able to fly short flights in this wind direction. Classic calm, hot summer days can be very good, but they can equally be very disappointing. Cloudless blue skies with not much wind will rarely produce good gliding conditions. Warm sunny days with plenty of fluffy clouds in the sky usually means there is plenty of lift about.

 Finally, a note about the flying field. During the winter months particularly, we can be limited as much by the ground as by the weather and if it has been very wet for a long period, we sometimes have to suspend flying, because of the soft ground, even when the weather seems quite promising.

What happens when the wind stops?

A question many people ask, but the clue is in the title. We carry on gliding! Gliders do not need wind to fly – although a good breeze provides a useful source of lift for extended flights in the air currents pushed up and over the nearby hills. A moderately breezy day is usually a good gliding day, but we can often stay airborne for long flights using just thermal lift when there is little or no wind.


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