How much does gliding cost?
Gliding is typically a ‘club based’ activity. Gliding clubs are mostly voluntary organisations and operate on a ‘not for profit’ basis.
Membership, fees, charges for glider hire etc. all contribute to the actual running costs. Likewise, instructors and tug pilots are mostly volunteers.
This means that the costs involved in learning to fly or to continue flying after your initial training is often surprisingly low.
Membership costs are around £300 per year with reductions for students and flying couples.
The main costs are directly proportional to the amount of flying a person does and whether they do it in their own plane, one they share with other owners, or if they are flying in club-owned gliders.
At Talgarth, a launch to 1800ft by aerotow cost around £30. A specialist powered plane tows the glider to a good place and height. That’s the only cost unless you’re using a club owned glider in which case the cost for a 40 minutes of glider hire is around £17.
There are also schemes to ‘block book’ glider hire which can greatly reduce the hire costs especially for someone who is really keen and able to fly regularly. There are also some ‘grants’ and ‘bursaries’ that young people can apply for.
The main difference between gliding and learning other forms of aviation is that instruction is free to members. Compared to learning to fly a light aircraft, gliding is probably less than 1/3rd of the cost per instructed hour.
A definitive figure of how much it costs to learn is hard to provide. People with previous flying experience such as paragliding, hang gliding or microlights will generally progress quickly, but you will get a lot of instructed airtime for £1000, and most beginners are unlikely to spend much more than this in their first year.
A pilot with their own glider will have to pay a small charge to store their glider trailer at the club. They will have to insure it and pay for some annual checks and general preventative maintenance. But they will be flying for two to four hours or more per launch.
Also, glider depreciation is very low indeed. Nothing like car depreciation and some are going up in value! So, for private or syndicate members the costs per hour flown might not be much different to a member flying club gliders. They might pay less for launches as they will probably launch once and fly for hours. They don’t pay for glider hire but this is offset by insurance and other glider related costs. It is very much cheaper per hour flown than flying a powered light aircraft, plus it’s so much more absorbing!