Is soaring for me?
Challenge is the key word – to fly well, to use the capabilities of your craft to its utmost, to make the most of the weather conditions of the day. It’s always changing, and it’s never boring. Your only limits are your own skill, desire, and initiative. If you’re intrigued by the concept of motorless flight, interested in the weather, or just friendly people of all ages, fresh air and open spaces, and you want to feel at home in the sky, then we know that you will find the sport of soaring both challenging and exhilarating for years to come.
What is soaring?
Soaring is the most perfect expression of man’s dream to fly…
The morning has dawned bright and clear, and by 10 o’clock there are puffy white cumulus clouds popping everywhere. You strap into your elegant glider and check the controls and instruments. All OK, you give a thumbs up to your wing runner, who hooks the towrope to the towplane, and then signals “all out”. It begins rolling and pulling you up into the air, and a few minutes later you’re at 3000 feet – time to release from your friendly towpilot. Now it’s just you, your sailplane, and the sky. Soon, a surge tells you that you’re gliding through a “thermal”, so you start circling and begin spiraling upwards at 600 feet a minute. While riding this rising column of warm air from a plowed field to cloudbase, a red tail hawk joins you! You are soaring, thanks to the solar heating of the ground. There is a remarkable amount of energy freely available in the atmosphere to the discerning pilot.
So, now where? A trip along the Rockies up to Golden and down to the US Border ? Perhaps, on another day, you will visit the Purcells to the west of the Columbia valley, fly above Jumbo glacier and fly around the “Lake of the hanging glacier” – the view below and the clouds are extraordinary!
What does it take to learn?
The best entry into gliding is with an introductory flight to let you experience the joys of soaring for yourself. Try one, and if you find it to be the most fun you’ve ever had. Invermere is one of the premier gliding sites in the World and the Invermere Soaring Centre and the East Kootenay Soaring Club offer everything you need to learn and enjoy gliding.
It’s a safe sport; you only need to be 14 years of age to become a student, and just 14 as well to solo. There is no age limit for gliding. As long as you are fit – you can fly. We currently have two visiting pilots at age 74 and 80 which still enjoy gliding tremendously and both, our towpilot and one of our instructors started gliding at the age of 14.
A fully qualified and experienced group of instructors will teach you everything you need to know, even if you have never been in the air before. The necessary Ground school is included in the training packages offered. An average new student takes 40 to 50 flights of dual instruction to develop the experience and judgement to fly solo. If you are a licensed power pilot, you can transition in 10-20 flights depending on your stick and rudder skills..
Flying in Invermere starts in the spring (April/May) and usually goes through to end of October, depending on the weather. Once you have soloed, it’s a little more flight time before writing the Transport Canada examination for the glider pilot licence. Many persons are able to solo during their first season (and flying skills will progress more quickly if you do not have long breaks between lessons). Now you can progress to higher performance sailplanes, acquiring the additional skills that will enable you to earn various soaring badges that are recognized internationally, fly on cross-country tasks with friends, enter competitions, or anything else that you wish to learn …
How high can I go? How far?
Invermere is known World wide for its excellent conditions for cross-country soaring, and many national records as well as one World record have been set from Invermere. Flights of over 500 kilometres are often completed by experienced pilots and pilots visit from all over the world to utilize the favourable soaring conditions found in Invermere. In June 2000, Trevor Florence flew a new World record, flying 638 kilometres in a club class glider. And middle of July 2000, visiting pilot Hans Binder from Switzerland flew a distance of 850 kilometres. Although record breaking flights aren’t to be had by everyone of course, the simple pleasure of a couple of hours of local soaring up near the clouds is ample reward for a week on the job – and there are trophies and other awards for less daunting (but equally well regarded) levels of achievement for all skill levels!
What will it cost?
Soaring is the most enjoyable and affordable way to fly regularly, costing significantly less than power flight training, while being a lot more fun. The new student will fly fifty or so flights during the year to solo. Costs include club membership, use of equipment, and membership in the Soaring Association of Canada with “free flight”, its bimonthly magazine. Depending on your present skills cost may vary for you to get your license – check the attached cost sheet – it’s cheaper than you think.
Do I have to buy a sailplane?
Private ownership is not an absolute necessity because you can rent modern gliders from the Invermere Soaring Centre. However, once you have your licence and some cross-country experience, you may consider owning your own so that you can fly anytime and as long as you like. Gliders (complete with trailer and Instruments) can be bought for the price of a new car, with similar cost/quality considerations – and the cost is commonly shared by two or three pilots in partnership.
If I want to buy a sailplane, where would I buy it ?
The Invermere Soaring Centre is the exclusive dealer for the wonderful line of gliders from Schempp-Hirth in Germany. See our Website for details on the fine line of Schempp-Hirth gliders we can offer. These gliders currently hold many records and have won all classes at the latest World-Championship. For Pilots who can not afford any of these new gliders we also offer import services for used gliders from Europe and therefore are able to get the budget minded pilot in the air as well as those who simple head for “the best”.
COME VISIT !