Is gliding a sport?
For a lot of pilots gliding is a relaxing and absorbing activity. But for many pilots it’s also a highly competitive sport.
Pilots like to challenge themselves. Perhaps to fly around a pre-determined route that they think is the best that can be achieved given the forecast weather conditions. In planning a flight, they will consider their glider performance and their skill level. If they succeed and get around their planned route they will probably enter this into their club or national ‘league’ online.
You can visit this online. Pilots flights are visible along with their flight track and the changes in altitude as they climb in thermals and then glide long distances to the next area of good lift.
Points are awarded based on calculations that consider glider type (handicap), the length and difficulty of the flight, how much of it was completed and importantly the average speed achieved.
There are also competitions from club level through to regional, national and world championship grade competitions. These are all about speed around long challenging routes.
And like every sport gliding has its heroes, people that are consistently at the top and amaze the average club pilot with their flying. These are not household names but in gliding there are plenty of legendry pilots and super stars!