How gliding at Oxford works

OUGC’s home airfield is Bicester Gliding Centre (BGC), a few miles north of Oxford and only 30 mins door-to-door by bus. By being a member of OUGC you are automatically also made a member of BGC, with access to their full fleet of club aircraft and instructing team. Here you join a unique club, where you can go from complete beginner to licensed pilot in only a few months, learn aerobatics, experience a great atmosphere and fly across the country.

To find out technicalities on how to join, and detailed help on how to get to the airfield, please see the ‘join us’ page.

“One of my best memories at Oxford will be climbing in a thermal over Oxford, with a Red Kite flying off my right wing, turning together as we soar towards the clouds. To think of the beauty my classmates, thousands of feet below, were missing!”

~Tor Walberg, Spring 2018

 How do we fly?

Gliders are aircraft without engines. They work by getting an initial launch, either towed up behind a powered aircraft, or by taking a winch launch. Once released they descend at a constant rate. To remain airborne the pilot must find sources of life in the atmosphere. Once lift has been found the pilot stays in it, rising upwards with the air-mass. Once at a suitable altitude you can fly on, descending until it is time to find lift again. By doing this a glider can travel vast distances (thousands of kilometers) in a day, all without an engine!

Glider flying can be whatever you make it - long cross country flying, high paced aerobatics, low level ridge-running, high altitude flight in wave, formation flight, instructing and much more.

On Aerotow

During an aerotow a rope connects the tow plane to a hook in the nose of the glider. The glider pilot releases when the desired altitude is reached.


Winch Launch

A winch (about a mile off to the left in the picture) takes in a cable attached to the glider, pulling it forwards and providing airspeed. Once the glider is nearly over the winch the cable is released from the glider.


Thermalling over Oxford

Thermal lift is found when a column of air that is warmer than the surrounding airmass rises. Glider’s tightly circle in these, rising with the air.

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Ridge lift

Ridge lift is found when wind blows across a ridge, and is forced upward by the topography (right to left in pic). Gliders can fly straight along the upwind edge of the ridge, rising with the air.


Wave lift

In mountainous regions wind that is forced to rise by mountains can, under the right conditions, create atmospheric ‘waves’ that ‘bounce’ in the atmosphere. By flying in the up-going bars of lift gliders regularly reach over 10 000ft, often flying as high as airliners.