(gliding sport) is a sport in which competitions are conducted on small, non-motorized aircraft heavier than air (gliders). The goal of the athletes is to overcome the distance for the minimum amount of time.


According to researchers, designs heavier than air, which could make a planning flight, existed even in ancient Egypt (2500-1500 BC). In Ancient Greece, around 400 BC, a philosopher, astronomer, mathematician, strategist and statesman, Architent of Tarenta created and tested an aircraft resembling a bird.

In this primitive machine, called Dove, the inventor flew a distance of about 200 meters. “Wooden bird” was also invented in the 5th century AD. in China, Liu Ban, the first emperor of the Han dynasty.

In Europe, too, many attempts were made to create a non-motorized aircraft heavier than air. One of the first sketches of a design of this kind was created by Emmanuel Swedenborg in 1714, and the first aircraft, in many respects reminiscent of the modern glider, was manufactured in 1853 by Sir George Cayley, a scientist and inventor from England. On his maholet he was able to fly a few meters. More successful were the experiments of Otto Lilienthal (Germany), who worked on the creation of a glider at the end of the XIX century.

It took not much time to improve the design – in the 20-30s of the XX century gliders became available and relatively cheap, gaining increasing popularity in many countries of the world.

The first world championship in gliding was held in 1937 at Wasserkuppe (Germany). Nowadays this kind of competition is held every two years for men, women and juniors under the aegis of the World Federation of Aviation Sports (Fédération Aéronautique Internationale), founded in 1905. Within the framework of this organization, an international commission was created by the International Gliding Commission (IGC) engaged in glider sports.

Planter and glider – words-synonyms.

Originally a glider was called an aircraft with fixed bearing planes, which is heavier than air and is not equipped with a motor. The word “glider” was used to name the power structure of any aircraft. However, after a while these aviation terms really began to be used, as synonyms (with the exception of some professional circles, where the glider refers to the design of the aircraft, and the glider refers to the aircraft). Moreover – the version of the “glider” is used increasingly rarely, displaced by the word “glider” and when it comes to a non-motorized aircraft, and when the design of an aircraft is meant.

Planarism is just a kind of outdoor activity.

In most cases, it is. However, the most experienced pilots participate in regional, national and international competitions, which are conducted along a certain route, and allow the gliders to demonstrate not only flying skills, but also the ability to optimally use the weather conditions of a particular area for the fastest and accurate passage of the distance. In addition, many pilots of gliders participate in aerobatics competitions, performing rather complex figures (loops, barrels, inverted flight, etc.), each of which is judged by judges in accordance with the level of complexity (K-factor). In calculation, the correctness and precision of each maneuver is taken – the points are awarded only for the ideally executed aerobatics figure.

Any adult and healthy person can learn how to fly a glider.

In this sport there are certain restrictions: the maximum weight of the pilot (taking into account a parachute assembled weighing about 2 kg) can not be more than 103 kg, height – up to 193 cm. Higher people can also master this sport, but they at the same time they will experience certain inconveniences.

You can master the glider in a few days.

Yes, but on the first independent flight the student will be able to go only after 50 training flights with the instructor and trainings on the simulator (used in the event that due to weather deterioration, outdoor training is impossible). It should be noted that an independent flight does not mean the completion of training. The student must acquire flight skills over distance, and in some countries – pass exams on navigation, glider control, radio use, etc.

Glider sport appeared in the 20 years of the last century, when gliders became safe, cheap and affordable.

Yes, it is. However, one more reason for the appearance and development of this sport should be added. The fact is that after the First World War, according to the Treaty of Versailles, a limitation was imposed on the manufacture and use of single-seat aircraft equipped with engines in Germany. Due to this, German engineers and aircraft designers had to concentrate almost all their attention on the development and improvement of non-motorized aircraft, and pilots sought ways to use various atmospheric phenomena to increase the speed and range of flight of gliders. In addition, with the active support of the government, under the guise of sports exercises, the training of future military pilots was conducted.

Active development of glider sport in Russia began only after the Second World War.

Absolutely mistaken opinion. As early as the beginning of the last century, the first circles were created in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kiev, Crimea and Tbilisi, which conducted training in gliding. The official date for the beginning of the mass development of gliding is 7 November 1923, when all-Union glider trials were held in Koktebel, and the first USSR records for this sport were recorded. In 1934, the title of master of glider sport was established, many gliders of original designs were created, and by 1941 13 of 18 world records, registered by the International Aviation Federation, had been installed by athletes from the USSR. In the Unified All-Union Sports Classification, gliding was included in 1949, and on November 2, 1994 the Federation of Gliding Sport of Russia was established.

Gliding competitions were included in the number of Olympic sports.

This is not quite true. Demonstrative competitions on gliding were in fact included in the program of the XI Olympiad (Berlin, Germany) and this sport was to become Olympic in 1940. However, in connection with the outbreak of the Second World War, the Olympic Games were canceled. After the war, it turned out that there are several reasons that prevent the inclusion of gliding sport in the number of Olympic. The first – there was an acute shortage of gliders, the second – and was not adopted a certain standard, according to which models for competitions were to be made (the glider society feared that as a result of such standardization the design of gliders would be suspended). Later proposals on the introduction of gliding in the Olympics program was rejected by the International Aviation Federation because of the lack of public interest shown to this sport.

For the production of gliders, wood and light metals are used.

For a long time the wings of gliders were made of wood, the fuselage was made of steel tubes. Modern aircraft of this kind are most often made of lighter and more durable artificial materials. However, there were also quite original design ideas, for example, a glider designed from inflatable rubber elements was created in the USSR in 1934, and in 1935 it successfully passed field tests. According to practical studies, it is quite possible to produce a glider from a material, which, it would seem, is absolutely not suitable for this purpose – concrete. However, flights on such a glider will be quite difficult and dangerous, not because of the heavy weight of the car, but because of the fragility of the concrete structure.

On the glider you can cover quite a long distance, but if the weather deteriorates – the pilot will have to make an emergency landing.

Today, with good weather, experienced pilots can cover a distance of 100 to 1000 km (the flight record for the range established by Klaus Olmann on January 21, 2003 is 1,008 km). The first models of gliders showed much worse results. For example, the designs of Keithley and Lienthal could transfer a person to a distance of only a few meters, and the first world record, established in 1920 at Wasseruppepe (Germany), was only 2 km. Deteriorating weather can actually lead to landing of an aircraft in an unplanned location. Insured from this only pilots of motor-gliders that can start the engine and complete the route at the desired point.

план A glider, not equipped with an engine, can not fly off the ground.

This is indeed so. In order to start the glider, you need an auxiliary equipment (self-propelled winch, car, towing aircraft) to which the glider is attached using a hemp rope or a metal rope and towed for a while, giving it the necessary acceleration. After that, the pilot of the glider disconnects the cable (and, in the case of a self-propelled winch, a cable of 1000 m length is lowered to the ground with a small parachute). To start with a slope, shock absorbers are most often used, for pulling which requires a concerted effort of a group of 2-3 or 8-10 people (depending on the type of shock absorber used).

Motor-gliders can independently take off.

Some motorized gliders (for example, the so-called cruise) are equipped with only low-power “marching” engines that are launched after take-off, and serve only to gain altitude, regardless of the presence or absence of strong upward air currents. However, to implement the glider self-starting these engines are not suitable. Self-launch can only be carried out by aircraft equipped with motors of sufficient power.

When towing by airplane, the glider should be above it, so as not to get into the turbulent flow.

The glider may be behind the towing vehicle either in the above-described position (the so-called “high towing” prevailing in Europe and the USA), or to keep below the aircraft (“low towing”, more commonly used in Australia). There is a possibility of simultaneous towing of two gliders – in this case one of them (attached to the aircraft by a long cable) is in a low towing position, the other (attached by a short cable) – in a high towing position.

The cheapest way to start a glider is with a winch.

Yes, it is. However, it should be remembered that in this case the launching height is not so great, therefore, if within a few minutes the pilot does not have time to detect an upward air flow strong enough to entrain the aircraft to a high altitude – the flight will not last long. In addition, in the case of a winch, there is a risk of rupture of the cable.

The towing of a glider by a car is similar in many respects to the launching of a kite.

This statement is true if it is a direct method of towing. When using the “reverse pulley” method, the machine moves not one-way with the glider, but approaches it.

A glider that made an emergency landing can be quickly returned to the aerodrome by calling a towing aircraft for this purpose.

Yes, but it should be taken into account that, firstly, for the landing and subsequent take-off of the towing aircraft, it will be necessary to obtain permission from the land owner, on which the glider landed. Secondly, the pilot of the glider will have to pay for all the time that will be spent on evacuation (since the take-off of the towing aircraft from the airfield). Because it is much cheaper to use the services of a specially equipped trailer (although this takes a little longer).

Thermal can be easily detected by the cumulus clouds formed by them or by “dusty devils”.

Indeed, the ascending air currents (thermal streams or thermals), formed as a result of sunlight heating of a certain area of ​​the earth, can lead to the formation of cumulus clouds. Sometimes, if several thermal consoles are formed in a row, a “cloud street” is created – in this case the pilot can easily fly a very long distance without losing altitude. However, if air humidity is insufficient or as a result of inversion warm air rises too high and moisture condensation does not occur – no clouds form. Yes, and “dusty devils” (small tornadoes) do not always indicate the location of the thermal, because the pilots have to closely monitor the variometer (a vertical speed indicator), the readings of which help determine if the glider is in thermal (in this case the aircraft will go up).

Thermal is associated with certain details of the terrain.

It is difficult to relate thermal problems to any particular detail of the terrain, but it is noticed that this type of ascending air stream is most often found over asphalt roads, freshly plowed fields, cities, power stations, and also in fire zones.

The same thermal flows fit gliders, hang gliders and paragliders.

Hang gliders using a wing made of cloth stretched on a rigid frame for flights and paragliders using a fabric wing devoid of any solid framework can gain altitude on very weak and narrow thermals. For larger and heavier gliders, thermal flows of somewhat larger sizes are needed. The exception is primary and microlift gliders, the first ones can only rise in thermal flows, but they can not leave them for flight to the next thermal.

The greatest height is gained by gliders that have fallen into a strong thermal.

No, above all (not 15 km or more) a glider can use, which uses the power of wave currents (constant waves formed in the earth’s atmosphere, most often in mountainous terrain). In this case, the main danger that lies in wait for the pilot is a lack of oxygen, because gliders who want to fly over mountain ranges are necessarily stocked with special equipment to avoid hypoxia and hypothermia. At the meeting point of two air masses – warm and cold (convergence zone), created by the sea breeze or emerging in the desert, there is also the possibility of a fast direct ascending flight. A flying machine, caught in a strong thermal in the plain, can fly up to a maximum of 3000 m (the lift height will be somewhat larger in the mountains). And, finally, the flow streams (appear where the wind, faced with an obstacle (rock, high bank) rises upwards) can help lift the glider to a height of about 600 meters in the event that they are not amplified by thermal currents resulting, for example, as a result heating the rocks with the sun.

The lighter the glider, the faster it flies.

In thermals, light aircraft with an unstable wing will actually rise faster and higher, but at higher speeds, during the flight between thermal flows, the balancing resistance of the wings is best minimized. To this end, pilots flying for a distance are stored with ballast water, placed in special bags or tanks, reinforced at the ends of the wings. It helps to improve the aerodynamic qualities of the glider at high speeds, as a result of which the aircraft spends less time on the route than the glider without ballast. If, however, the lifting force of the thermals is not as high as expected, or there is the danger of an unplanned landing – from ballast can be quickly and easily disposed of by opening special valves.

In winter gliders do not fly.

Strong thermal flows appear in the mid-latitudes only in spring and summer, while in winter the formation of this kind is much weaker and less frequent. However, despite this, gliders do not stop training in the winter, using wave currents and streams of flow, the power of which is less dependent on changing seasons.

Competitors gliding along the route developed by the organizers of the competition.

Not necessary. There are disciplines of glider sport, suggesting flights (and the accuracy of the distance, and the range) along the route chosen by the pilot.

The passage of certain points of the route is marked with the help of special equipment installed on the glider board.

Yes, nowadays, using the GPS tracker, the location of the glider is indicated every few seconds. Analyzing the data obtained by this device, you can determine how accurately the pilot followed the specified rate. Before the appearance of the above-mentioned technical devices, the passage of certain points of the route was confirmed by other methods. Initially, people on the ground, by visual observation, determined whether the glider had followed the specified course, later the pilots themselves photographed the turning points, and were required to provide photos of the jury.

During the competition, the simultaneous start of several gliders is not practiced.

Yes, when it comes to national or international competitions. But recently there was a new format of competitions – the Grand prix, which provides for the simultaneous launch of several gliders, a ring route (the participants overcome it several times in a row) and a simplified system for determining the winner. According to organizers, competitions of this kind contribute to the popularization of gliding.

There are decentralized gliding competitions that do not involve the presence of all competing pilots at the same time in the same place.

This is indeed so. In order to take part in the online contest (Online Contest, OLC), it is enough for the pilot to upload files with information about the pilot, aircraft and GPS data about any flights conducted over a certain period of time.

The gliders are used only for entertainment or for the preparation and competition of glider athletes.

Yes, when it comes to sports gliders, either without a motor or equipped with a low-power motor, used only for take-off and climb, and after – retractable into the fuselage. But there are other kinds of gliders (for example, tourist or general purpose motor-skiers) equipped with a more powerful engine and capable of carrying a rather large cargo, the scope of which is much wider. For example, aircraft of this kind are used for military purposes (as a scout) and for the protection of the state border. Also, gliders are used for patrolling roads, monitoring the state of gas pipelines and power lines, performing aerial photography, and sometimes acting as aerotaxi (for example, if you need to urgently take a doctor to a remote settlement).

Nowadays, there are many problems that hamper the popularization of gliding sport.

Unfortunately, it really is. After the Second World War, glider sport did not develop because there were very few gliders. But even when the number of cars increased – the circle of fans of gliding was not expanding as fast as we would like. The reason for this is, firstly, competition with related sports (paragliding and hang-gliding), which require much less expenses, secondly, the increase in the intensity of air traffic, thirdly, insufficient advertising coverage of competitions in gliding sports (due to some features contests lighting them on television is quite difficult). And, finally, hobby for gliding is an occupation that takes a lot of time and requires considerable financial investments.

There is nothing in common between a spacecraft and a glider.

Flight characteristics of the mentioned aircraft are really not very similar. But it should be noted that the space shuttle, equipped with wings, and decreases, and makes landing in the mode of the glider.

The Gimli glider is named so by the name of the designer who created this aircraft.

Absolutely mistaken opinion. Glider Gimli (Gimli Glider) is unofficially named one of Boeing 767 owned by Air Canada. This name was given to the plane after the flight from Ottawa to Edmonton, on July 23, 1983, as a result of the engine stop (the fuel ran out) was forced to continue further flight in the planning mode. The plane landed safely in the territory where Gimli’s military base was once stationed. But we should not consider this case as an isolated case. There are many examples of successful planning and landing (squashing) of aircraft, for which, for whatever reason, the engines failed. For example, on August 21, 1963, a Tu-124 aircraft with idle engines successfully landed on the Neva. On August 24, 2001, Air Transat Airbus A330-243 landed without fuel in the Azores. On January 15, 2009, the plane A 320 of the US Airways airline crashed on the river. Hudson after collision with a flock of wild geese (the birds got into turbines, which led to the failure of engines), etc.

On the old glider it is impossible to come to the finish line first and win the competition.

In some cases, the main thing in the competition is not the speed, but the manifestation of the pilot’s skill. For example, during competitions in the club class, in order to equalize the chances of winning machines of different (sometimes very old) designs, a handicap (correction factor) is added to the results of the competition, minimizing the role of the technical perfection of the design in achieving the best result. Because sometimes the aircraft, finishing among the latter, after evaluating the entire complex of factors taken into account can take one of the first places in the competition.

A glider, a hang glider and a paraglider belong to the same type of aircraft.

Yes, it is. Despite very significant differences in the design, some types of gliders (primary gliders used for the training of novice pilots and micro-lift gliders) really belong to the gliders type – flying vehicles with a low wing load (maximum 18 kg / m2) . To the same kind belong hang gliders and paragliders. All other gliders with a high wing load (FAI classes and extracurricular ones) refer to the kind of gliders (sailplanes).

The world record can be placed on any glider.

No, according to the FAI classification, all gliders are divided into 2 classes: championship, suitable for national and international competitions, and record-breaking – within this class the highest achievements in competitions are recorded.

The championship class includes:
• Club – a class that combines all the gliders that belong to any flying clubs;
• standard class – created in the 60’s. XX century. The maximum wingspan is 15 m, the mechanization of the wing is prohibited (except – air brakes, which do not increase the lift of the structure). This aircraft is easy to use, easy to operate and maintain;
• class of 15 meters – unlike the standard one can have a mechanized wing;
• class 18 meters – differs from the previous only by the size of the wing. Some manufacturers use this, producing machines with wing tips of different lengths, by changing which you can get gliders of 2 different classes;
• an open class – the gliders that are included in it, are created without any restrictions.Therefore, aircraft of this kind often have a large wingspan and takeoff weight, good flight characteristics and a fairly high price;
• class 20 meters double – has a wing span of not more than 20 m, was created specifically for use in aeroclubs when training pilots;
• world class – it included aircrafts that coincide in all characteristics with PW-5 gliders manufactured in Poland. It was created in 1996, but it did not gain wide popularity, and on January 1, 2001 it was abolished;
• Class 13 meters – appeared on January 1, 2001 as one of the alternatives to world-class gliders. Having a wing span of 13 meters, this aircraft has good flying data, and is most often used for rest and training of novice gliders.

Record classes:
• open class – combines gliders of 2 championship classes: 18 meters and open;
• class of 15 meters;
• world class (abolished in 2001);
• ultralight class – combines aircraft, the maximum weight of which does not exceed 220 kg. Within the framework of this class, a subclass of micro-lift gliders is distinguished which, due to structural features (wing load should not exceed 18 kg / m2), can use small-sized air streams (microlifts) for climbing, which are usually only accessible to paragliders and hang-gliders.

You can build the glider yourself, using information from the Internet.

Unfortunately, detailed drawings on which you could make all the details yourself and create a glider from scratch on the Internet is quite difficult to find. Most often, materials of this kind represent only an image of the general view of the aircraft, supplemented by sketches of the main nodes and some components, guided by which one can only create a glider with a handy set of relevant parts. Although there are models of gliders (Carbon Dragon, Woodstock), designed for self-construction.

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