Flight Training

Flight Training

The club operates and is administrated on a purely voluntary basis by Club members who total around one hundred. The club’s gliders and tow plane are operated on a cost recovery basis while all glider instruction and piloting of the tow-plane is free. All instructors are approved by our parent organization, Gliding New Zealand. We actively welcome all prospective new members to our club.

The Canterbury Gliding Club has been teaching people to soar for over fifty years. We are an all volunteer organization – everybody in the club offers their time freely to support the sport. The club has experienced pilots and instructors, many with thousands of hours of flying time. The Canterbury club has been the home to many successful world gliding record attempts and other internationally recognized achievements. The Southern Alps provide a gliding paradise where flights of hundreds of kilometers are possible. You too can enjoy the great opportunities for silent flight that are available on our doorstep.

If you can’t find the answer to your question here, please don’t hesitate to contact us or more information.

Who can learn to fly gliders?

Almost anyone can take up gliding – there is no age restriction. Generally many under the age of 14 will be too small to reach the controls. If you have any health concerns just check with your doctor that it is OK for you. There is a basic medical declaration required prior to going solo but no aircrew medical requirement.

How long will it take to learn?

A typical person takes between 35 and 50 training flights with an instructor before being checked out to go solo, but this depends a lot on individual ability, how frequently you fly and any past flying experience. Note however that long before you go solo you will have full control of the aircraft for all phases of the flight. Furthermore going solo is only the first step – there’s plenty more to learn from an instructor about making the most of the sources of lift in order to extend your flights as well as advanced topics like cross-country flying which can take you on flights of 100s of km.

How much will it cost?

Flying gliders is one of the cheapest ways to enjoy an aviation sport. At all New Zealand Gliding clubs the instruction is free. This is because we are a voluntary run, non-profit organization and operate on a “cost recovery” basis. Members pay an annual membership fee plus the cost of glider hire and the cost of the launch – a per-minute charge for the tow plane or a flat fee for a winch launch.

You can join the club at any time of the year and “pay as you fly” – members are invoiced out monthly. We ask members to keep their accounts in credit to the tune of $100. In addition there is an expectation that all members will participate towards the running of the club in whatever way they feel they can. Although the gliders only carry one or two people it is actually a highly cooperative sport requiring the assistance of tow-pilots, winch drivers, time-keepers, radio operators and wing runners. There are lots of way to contribute when you aren’t actually flying, not the least of which is the social side of the club centered around our bar and clubrooms and involving regular special events.

When and where?

The club operates every weekend and most holidays depending on the weather from our main base near Springfield (about 50 minutes drive West of Christchurch).  In addition we have regular away camps during the year, including operating from the Omarama airfield over the Christmas/New Year period that gives great opportunities to try world-class mountain flying.

How does the training work?

You can train at your own pace, coming out to the field whenever you can. Generally if you fly frequently you will make faster progress – it’s better to fly a little every couple of weeks than try for a long flight every three months. Training is performed by the clubs experienced instructors – they have taught hundreds of people to fly safely and are prepared for students at all levels of ability and interest. Training flights are available every day we are flying and are performed on a first-come first served basis. During your flying training it’s likely that you will fly with a number of different instructors in order to gain the widest possible range of experience.

Learning to fly gliders is conducted according to a syllabus developed by our parent organization Gliding New Zealand. In general there are three stages. The first teaches you to take off and land safely and to plan a flight in the vicinity of the airfield. When you have mastered that you are ready to go solo. From that point you will concentrate on the second stage – this consolidates what was learnt in the first stage and introduces  the art of soaring – finding and making the best of the rising air which keeps gliders aloft and makes long flights possible. The final stage is learning to fly cross-country – finding lift, navigating and if it becomes necessary landing in a remote airstrip or paddock.


We operate under safety guidelines developed by Gliding New Zealand under the authority of the Civil Aviation Authority. Operating in a safe manner is a key part of all our flying and learning to fly safely is the major part of our flight training


Canterbury club members are active in competition flying, and there are regular opportunities to compete in regional and national competitions.  Gliding competitions involve timed races over courses of hundreds of kilometers and are the ultimate test of piloting ability.

The aircraft

We have a modern fleet of fibre-glass gliders: two training two seaters, a high performance two seater and a very nice single seat glider. We pride ourselves on maintaining these to the highest possible standard.