Gliding at Wolds Gliding Club, Pocklington – Review
By Jen Grimble
The artistic sport of gliding is one of the world’s ultimate adventure activities. A sport unrivalled by any other, gliding relies on gravity and naturally occurring air currents to stay aloft. In certain conditions these engine-less planes can soar to heights over 15,000 metres, for distances of over 600 miles. The sport’s popularity is secured by the recent achievements of the British Gliding Team. They are one of the most successful flying squads of modern times.
The ‘Father of Aviation’, Sir George Cayley, created the first man-carrying glider in the mid-19th century and, after World War I, gliding became a worldwide recreational sport. These days Britain is a leader in the field, with 85 Gliding sites scattered across the country. One such facility sits right on our door step; Wolds Gliding Club, situated at Pocklington airfield, 15 miles from York, is the premier facility in the north.
Sustained by volunteers and gliding enthusiasts the club has been active, in one form or another, since the late sixties. The association took flight – literally and economically – in mid-1970 after the members purchased the runways of the airfield. Since then the club has trained some of the country’s most successful pilots, including Tim Milner, who flew for the British Gliding Team during their 2014 victory at the World Team Gliding Championships.
It is easy to see the club’s appeal. Located in a beautiful, peaceful area of the East Riding, surrounded by lush fields and quaint hamlets, the area is a picturesque hub for nature. The airfield itself is large and open, with the premier clubhouse acting as the perfect place for pre or post-flight conversation.
As you walk out to the runway, with the planes awaiting your departure, you may experience a cocktail of excitement, nerves and anticipation. The modern two-seater training gliders are crisp white with long, curved wings. You climb in and adrenaline and eagerness take control. The lid of the plane closes to seal you in. The glider propels upwards by a skylaunch winch. Essentially a large engine rotating 1.5km of cable. Once attached to the glider, the plane accelerates across the ground at 60mph. Within three seconds the glider is airborne, climbing at a 45 degree angle.
Though quieter and seemingly faster than an average aeroplane, the launch is liberating and frightful at the same time. Once the plane is between 1,000 and 1,500 feet, the winch cable is detached. The glider then flies freely. Powered by the natural forces of gravity, and held aloft by invisible air currents, the glider delicately cuts through the sky. Spectacular surrounding views immediately replace all other thought; any worries fall away with the winch.
“Clouds of bright white”
The pilot keeps the nose of the glider parallel with the horizon and the plane is gently nudged left or right using a small, sensitive paddle. Allowing the natural currents to carry the craft along, you feel a sense of weightlessness, of omnipotence. Below, the airfield and Pocklington town, then vast green fields of every shade. In the distance the Yorkshire Moors and open hills are met by clouds of bright white. For descent the plane’s nose is gradually dipped. The craft comes to a gentle and slow landing.
From the sheer elation of the upwards climb, to the spectacular airborne views, Gliding is a must for any outdoor fans. A humble and liberating sport, it is also one of inclusion, since almost anyone can have a go. Wolds Gliding Club is a centre for community experience and individual adventure-seekers. It offers training sessions, evening and day experiences, and group activities. Vouchers are available for personal use, or as gifts. Annual special events act as highlights in the Yorkshire sporting calendar.
From adrenaline junkies to those with flying reservations, gliding here offers beautiful Yorkshire scenery. Plus, there’s a chance to try your hand at something totally different. So whether you’re conquering a fear, or finally learning a new skill, let your ambition take flight at Wolds Gliding Club.
More info: wolds-gliding.com