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Gloucestershire club helping women reach for the skies

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Of almost 30,000 pilots in the UK, fewer than 5% are women. As a career, industry and a sport, aviation has been slow to change, but a gliding club in Gloucestershire is determined to change that and help more women take wing.

Bristol and Gloucestershire Gliding Club, which has its own dedicated airfield near Nympsfield, will be running a Women’s Go Gliding weekend on Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th April to introduce women to the experience of soaring flight and aviation. The weekend is part of an initiative by the British Gliding Association, which is committed to broadening the sport and bringing in fresh skills and experience.

Gliding is a unique form of flying that uses air heated by the sun to stay aloft. Pilots can fly long distances using only thermal ‘lift’. The UK distance record is 1,108km.

Gliding creates almost no noise or pollution, and is a thrilling test of a pilot’s skill and knowledge. The sport is much more affordable than power flying, and lessons are provided by qualified club instructors.

Women of every age are encouraged to learn and take part. Youngsters can learn to fly from the age of 12 and can qualify as a solo pilot at 14. For most people, it is an exciting hobby, and gliding can also open up a career in aviation.

“The BGGC includes women in all aspects of its operation, from ab-initio trainee, through regular Cross Country pilots and Instructors, to World Class Competition level,” says Greg O’Hagan, chief flying instructor at Bristol and Gloucestershire Gliding Club. “I would always encourage all to participate.”

The BGGC prides itself on nurturing pilots and encouraging them to go beyond solo and becoming cross country pilots and instructors. “I joined the club 2 years ago when moving to Gloucestershire for work and within that time, I have progressed from a newly licensed glider pilot to an instructor and competition pilot who also loves doing aerobatics when I get the chance to. The club members have all been incredibly supportive with my progression as a glider pilot and I am incredibly grateful,” says Anne, a 26-year-old instructor at Bristol and Gloucestershire Gliding Club.

The National Women’s Go Gliding Weekend is being run at 22 clubs across the country, from Scotland to the West Country. The British Gliding Association (BGA) is supporting clubs’ efforts to recruit more women members and be more representative.

“I have been asked why are women not participating in gliding? I could write a book on this,” says Yvonne Elliott, the BGA’s women’s advocate. “But I will just comment there are numerous barriers, some of which we can change. We need to ensure all are met with a warm welcome and facilities that are great for everyone. All the clubs participating are planning to ensure a fantastic experience for everyone who gets involved.”

Bristol and Gloucestershire Gliding Club is offering flights to potential new women members during the Go Gliding weekend for a subsidised trial flight price of £95. Trial flights are also available to book all year round, so come and give gliding a try. For more details, email office@bggc.co.uk

For details of flying opportunities at other clubs, or to arrange a visit to a club, visit https://gogliding.uk/national-women-go-gliding-weekend/ or email yvonne@gliding.co.uk 

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