For many, the thought of glider flying conjures up an image of a sunny summer’s day, with sleek white aircraft circling under fluffy white clouds in an otherwise clear blue sky.
And certainly, for many Darlton pilots, these may well be the weather conditions that produce their longest, most memorable flights.
But these are not the only days when we fly! In fact, at Darlton, we launch gliders all year round – winter, summer, autumn and spring, when there’s snow on the ground, dodging those April showers, trying to keep warm from a chill wind from the North, or running the serious risk of sunburn.
Two common misconceptions are that gliders, because they lack an engine, either must fly in wind (like a kite) or else cannot be flown in wind.
Neither is true. Of course the strength of the wind creates different conditions and adapting to these is one of the glider pilot’s skills.
At DGC only very strong and blustery winds above 30 mph stop us launching. In fact, in hilly and mountainous regions the interaction of strong winds with the ground topology creates valuable lift, keeping the glider aloft for flights that can cover over 1,000 km!
Mist, Fog and Low Cloud
Gliders will not be launched when visibility is restricted, though often, early morning mists will lift by midday so that a delayed start may be possible.
We do not fly through rain! Continuous rain, often associated with low cloud, will cause the abandonment of flying. But in showery weather, launch operations can simply be paused while a shower passes over the airfield, and gliders in the air may choose to fly around the shower.