This is Snoopy!

Edinburgh University Gliding Club

Frequently Asked Questions

HPW on the wing
HPW on the wing, Freshers' Week, 2010
Who can join?

Membership is open to matriculated students and staff of the University of Edinburgh and Edinburgh College of Art. If you are interested in gliding but are not part of the university we suggest you contact the Scottish Gliding Union who offer trial flights to the public for around £85.

How much does it cost?

A typical 40-minute flight at Portmoak costs members as little as £16.

Trial lessons costs £60 for students of Edinburgh University, and £70 for other people affiliated with Edinburgh University. This includes:

  • All costs of the flight,
  • Membership for the academic year,
  • Personal insurance,
  • Transport to and from the airfield on the day of your flight.

The only other thing you will have to pay for is anything you want to eat and drink. For more about what to expect/take with you have a look here.

If you decide to carry on flying, we recommend you get yourself onto the training programme which will give you a good bundle deal. There are also bursaries available to young pilots.

If you don't benefit from the programme, flying costs £8.50 per winch launch and 20p per minute flying time. That's much cheaper than flying in a non-student club, and a huge saving compared to power flying. You will gain access to the club's comfortable and well-maintained aircraft, currently a two-seater (ASK-21) and a single-seater (ASK-8, "Snoopy"). As a member of EUGC you will also be able to make use of the SGU fleet; however these are rather more expensive at 46p per minute.

Gliding is much cheaper than flying or learning to fly powered planes (General Aviation aircraft), where you can expect to pay upwards of £100 an hour for plane and instruction.

What is it?

Gliding is flying a plane without an engine - soaring for hours on end, using nothing but the power of the air. Have a look at an introduction, then go and have a look at the photo album.

Do I need any experience of gliding?

Absolutely not. However, experienced glider pilots are also welcome!

What do we fly?

We fly gliders, not hang gliders. These are "proper" aircraft without engines, optimised for climbing in lift and travelling long distances by exchanging height for distance. Our gliders are a K8 known affectionately as Snoopy and our modern K21 "GBB".

Where do we fly?

We fly from Portmoak airfield, near Kinross, on the edge of Loch Leven (map). This is about 30km north of Edinburgh and takes about 50 minutes by car.

How long does it take to learn?

One of the fascinating things about gliding is that there is always something new to learn, even for experience pilots; every flight is different. The first milestone is going solo, that is, being able to fly the glider safely and confidently on your own. How long this takes depends a lot on how frequently you fly but six to nine months is an attainable target. Younger people tend to require fewer flights; 50 instructional flights a perfectly reasonable average to go solo.

Is gliding safe?

Gliding (with sailplanes) can be considered a reasonably safe sport. The sport can look back to almost a century of experience, and people have established simple rules that allow us to build safe planes and fly them with a minimum of risk. Portmoak airfield has an excellent record despite it hosting Scotland's largest club.

Of course, safety is a matter of the people involved. To a large extent it is up to the pilot to fly safely and stick to the rules. If accidents do happen, they are almost exclusively due to pilot error. EUGC and SGU instructors are trained to the high standards required by the British Gliding Association, and they, in turn, teach their students to avoid the known pitfalls. Aircraft are serviced and checked regularly and thoroughly. They are inspected daily before flying, and basic checks before every flight ensure that everything works the way it should. Everyone is encouraged to be vigilant to anything that might compromise safety. There is no shame in asking about anything that you feel is dubious.

EUGC has a dedicated Safety Officer who oversees the safety procedures that we all follow. New members, including those who come along for a trial flight, will get a thorough safety briefing with regards to the do's and don'ts on the airfield. And if you've been around for a little longer, you'll probably notice that we and our friends from the Scottish Gliding Union at Portmoak have established a culture of safety, which makes everyone comfortable and gliding a fun sport!

Do you have a constitution?

Yes! You can view it online, but the paper version (held by the Sports Union and the secretary) is the canonical reference.