Gliding Flights and Instruction
Gliding is the best kept secret in aviation! It is the most elegant and purest form of flight, but it is also a lot of fun!
The cost of the Training Introductory Flight is R1800.00 for up to 30min of flight depending on weather conditions. If you would like to fly longer, please select another booking slot. Once we receive your booking, we will verify that we are flying on your selected date, and there is a flying slot available. We will then confirm your booking and supply all relevant payment details and flying information. Looking forward to flying with you…… Visiting Pilots Visiting pilots are always welcome! Each year we are privileged to receive many overseas guests who visit us to experience the spectacular scenery and legendary South African soaring conditions. We do encourage you to contact us before your visit so that we can assist in making your stay as pleasant as possible. Visiting pilots can either fly with an instructor during a training introductory flight, or they can fly at club rates if they join the club for a day / weekend, however, to fly solo a visiting pilot must either have a valid South African GPL or validated RSA license endorsement and a copy of their logbook.
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Our club is the second largest in South Africa and was formed in 1949 after WW2. Originally based at Fisantekraal airfield, it moved to Worcester airfield (FAWC) in 1988, only 1 hour drive from Cape Town. Gliding from our club offers an opportunity to experience the beauty of the world renowned Western Cape mountain ranges from the air. Cross country flights of 300 – 500km distance are common, even though several flights of 1000km and more have been achieved. The soaring conditions are excellent and include a combination of ridge lift, thermic lift, wave and convergence flying. We have more than 130 members and operate on a non-profit basis over weekends and on public holidays.
Our club fleet consists of two ASK13 basic training two-seater gliders (ZS-GHV & ZS-GHB), one advanced training two-seat Twin Astir (ZA-GOK) and a single-seat Jeans Astir for solo pilots (ZS-GUC). In addition more than 35 privately owned high performance gliders and self-launching gliders are based on the airfield. Our tug fleets consists on a Super Cub PA18-180 (ZS-MIV) and a Rotax Falke SF25C (ZS-GZF) which is also used for training. Our club uses both aero tow and winch catapult launch methods. We have a dedicated team of qualified tug pilots and instructors who offer their time free of charge to provide affordable tuition for beginners and advanced students alike.
Club facilities include a clubhouse with bar and braai facilities, swimming pool, club hut (6 bed bunkhouse) and separate ablution facilities. Three runways are used for our operation: a 1600m long main (15/33) (500m paved sections at either end), parallel gravel winch runaway and a 700m long gravel cross runway (12/30). Summer gliding begins at about 10h00 and ends at sundown, after which we gather in the clubhouse for drinks and lively discussion on the day’s flights.
We have the best of everything: good thermic conditions, excellent ridge lift for very long distance flights, convergence and wave lift. We call it the “Worcester Magic”! you can read two articles describing this magic here:
· Flying in South Africa: Worcester is Magic! Written by Markus Geisen (published in Segelfliegen International, 2012)
· Pure Worcester Magic: A flight by Martin Grunert and published in South Africa Soaring Magazine.
Winds are generally from South East (a shallow, low-level wind) or North West (a wind which extends to great height), and both produce ridge lift. Northerly winds also produce lee-wave conditions. Ridges around Worcester are oriented in an “L” with the upright running South to North (Atlantic Ocean Side) and the cross piece running West to East (Indian Ocean side) with Worcester almost Exactly at the corner. Long ridge flights are possible in winds that are NW (good for wave in the lee of the “front” ridge), SW (our best conditions) through SE. Winds are strongly influenced by Indian Ocean and Atlantic Ocean weather patterns.
Since 1989 we have successfully presented more than 40 ab-initio training courses. Flight training during our ab-initio courses concentrates on true beginners; however, more experienced pilots are also welcome. For more information on the next available training course please contact us.
Club members / visitors may use the club hut for overnight accommodation or camp at the airfield. Private huts are also available for rent on the airfield (to be arranged directly with members concerned). In the town of Worcester there are numerous guest houses and a hotel. Other guest houses exist in the surrounding countryside.
Airspace and Radio Frequencies
Airspace is unrestricted up to FL85 (airfield elevation is 650ft). Airfield frequency is 124.8 MHz. ATC permission is required from Cape Town Approach ATC on 130.05 MHz to enter controlled airspace between FL85 and FL195 since Worcester airfield (FAWC) is situated underneath the Cape Town TMA. Outside the TMA airspace is unrestricted up to FL145. All radio communications are in English. Further away from the airfield (outside the TMA) use 131.125 MHz (within the Cape Province). Chat frequency is 123.4 MHz. Please see our Cloudbase Club Manual for details on specific reporting points when flying on the ridges.
Gliding (or soaring) is a recreational and competitive sport, where pilots fly un-powered aircraft known as gliders or sailplanes. Properly, the term gliding refers to descending flight of a heavier-than-air craft, whereas soaring is the correct term to use when the craft gains altitude or speed from rising air.
There are a variety of launch methods used to get gliders into the sky. The most common are Winch Launching and Aerotow. See this link for an excellent explanation of each. Some other more creative launch methods used around the world are Car Launches, Bungee Cords and Rocket-assisted launches.
Once in the sky, glider pilots make use of various types of lift, which enable them to climb and soar. These include Thermals, Ridge Lift and Wave. For a graphical display of the various types of lifts, have a look at this site
A word on Gliding:
“Once you have tasted flight, you will walk the earth with your eyes turned forever skyward, for there you have been, and there you long to return” Leonardo Da Vinci
The first gliders were made of wood and fabric and many of these gliders are still in used today for training purposes (ASK13). The early versions were most definitely gliders and had performance figures pretty close to that of a clay brick. This meant that they could only be used for training purposes and limited the flight to within the vicinity of the airfield where they launched.
Advances in composite technologies have enabled modern-day designers to produce gliders that are much lighter and far stronger than their predecessors. Some of the modern open class gliders now have wing spans of over 25m and glide ratios in excess of 1:60 – this means that in still air if the glider was 1000m above ground level, it could glide for 60km before having to land!
New gliders are designed and manufactured according to their use. Each category requires the glider to exhibit certain performance criteria. A two-seater training glider would be designed with stability in mind, making it easier for the student pilot to learn how to fly. An Aerobatic glider on the other hand is designed for superior handling and is more difficult for the novice to control. Lastly, a competition glider is designed to fly as fast as possible at the highest glide ratio.
A growing number of manufacturers are also now producing touring motor gliders. This is essentially a hybrid between a normal aircraft and a glider. In a sense you get the best of both worlds. You can hop in your Motor glider, take-off at any time and travel to a specific destination without requiring favourable atmospheric conditions. Should you encounter any lift along the way, you can simply switch the motor off and fly the aircraft as a glider.
Gliding is regarded as one of the safest aviation sports in the world.
Student Pilots are required to complete a comprehensive theoretical and practical training syllabus in order to obtain their Glider Pilot Licence (GPL). Unlike most other aviation activities, pilots are required to undergo further training and an additional test, before being allowed to take passengers.
Gliders fall into the LS1 category for maintenance purposes. Aside from a mandatory pre-flight inspection before each flight, gliders are inspected annually by an approved person, who issues the glider with an LS1 Certificate.
Although not mandatory for every flight, glider pilots often wear a parachute. Aside from acting as a precaution in the unlikely event of a mid-air collision, the parachute provides additional comfort when seated inside the glider, acting like a long thin cushion.
World Records (Source)
· The Longest Free Distance Flight using up to 3 turn points was set at 3009 km on the 21st January 2001 by Klaus Ohlmann in Argentina in a Nimbus 4 DM
· The Fastest Speed over a triangular course of 1000km was set at 169.72 km/h on the 5th January 1995 by Helmut H. Fischer at Gariep (South Africa)
· The highest that a glider has ever been is 14 938m. This record was set on the 17th February 1986 by Robert R. Harris at California City (USA)
· The first recorded glider flight was in 1891 by German engineer, Otto Lilienthal. He went on to record over 2500 flights before a gust of wind caused him to lose control of his glider, resulting in his untimely death.
· The largest glider is the ETA, which has a wingspan of over 30m. This is twice the size of a standard glider!
The development of heavier-than-air flight in the half-century between Sir George Cayley’s coachman in 1853 and the Wright brothers mainly involved gliders (see History of Aviation). However, the sport of gliding only emerged after the First World War as a result of the Treaty of Versailles,  which imposed severe restrictions on the manufacture and use of single-seater powered aircraft in Germany. Thus, in the 1920s and 1930s, while aviators and aircraft makers in the rest of the world were working to improve the performance of powered aircraft, the Germans were designing, developing and flying ever more efficient gliders and discovering ways of using the natural forces in the atmosphere to make them fly further and faster.
Worcester Airfield, Western Cape, Worcester, 6849
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S 33° 39' 51.25'' E 19° 25' 8.445''