Virtually anyone who is able to drive a car can learn to fly a glider. It may take from 50 to 150 flights before you go solo, depending on factors such as age, aptitude and how regularly you fly. Apart from being reasonably fit, there are no great physical requirements and people with a variety of disabilities have found it possible to take up gliding. It is an advantage to start young. Although the minimum age for solo flying is now 14 (it used to be 16), younger members can still learn before this age. There is no maximum age and many members have begun gliding after retirement and gone on to become successful solo pilots.
All instruction is by British Gliding Association qualified instructors who are members of the club and give their services voluntarily. Training flights last an average of 10 minutes and a typical session will be either one soaring flight or three or four shorter flights. Beginners follow a common syllabus which includes basic handling, launches, circuits, landings and a range of emergencies so that you can deal with any likely problem before you go solo. As a result gliding has an excellent safety record.
National and international gliding authorities have organised a structured set of tasks to encourage solo pilots to progress at their own rate by flying for longer periods, soaring to greater heights and flying further distances. These increasing levels of skill and experience are the basis of the Bronze, Silver, Gold and Diamond badge system. These tasks are entirely voluntary and many pilots are happy with local soaring within a few miles of the airfield