Before we get into the details, it is worth mentioning that many clubs run ab-initio training courses. There are courses usually run over about 6 days and you will have 4 or 5 flights per day. This is a fantastic way to get into the sport as you will develop your skills and have your first solo flight much quicker when there are no gaps in your training. These courses are typically around the $3500 mark and most students will go solo at the end of the week.
Many people are not able to take a week off from school, uni or work to learn to fly and would prefer to do their training over a longer period of time.
The major costs involved in learning to fly gliders are:
Aero-Tow or Winch Launches
You must be a member of the Gliding Federation of Australia to learn to fly gliders in Australia. For people under 26 the cost is $166.00 per year. If you are over 26, the cost is $320.00 per year.
You must also be a member of a gliding club to learn to fly. The costs for this varies from club to club and can be anywhere from $10 to $500 annually, though typical prices between $100 and $200 per year. Many clubs also offer discounted membership to young people and students. See our list of clubs here to find the right club for you.
Launching is done either by aero-tow or winch. Winch is significantly cheaper, but flights will be shorter if you cannot find lift quickly.
An aero-tow to 2000 feet generally costs in the range of $55-$60 and a flight will last 15-20 minutes from this height if no lift can be found. A winch launch costs about $10 but if no lift is found the flight will only last 5 or 10 minutes. Don’t let this deter you though! Australia has arguably the best weather in the world for gliding and not finding any lift is rare, especially in summer.
Again, many clubs have discounts available for juniors.
Glider hire costs vary depending on how modern the glider you are flying is. Older gliders are around $50-$60 per hour, while brand new gliders can be close to $100 per hour. Often hire rates are capped at a certain amount for one flight. That is, you may only have to pay for 3 or 4 hours despite having a 5+ hour flight.
Many clubs have ‘bulk-flying’ schemes where you pay for a certain amount of glider hire upfront at a reduced price. For example, a glider that normally costs $50 per hour may be available at $30 per hour if you pay for 20 hours in advance. The club will keep a record of your flying and you will be able to renew this scheme when you have completed the 20 hours. The details of each clubs’ bulk flying varies so you will need to ask exactly how it works at your club.
Just like membership & launches, many club offer discounted glider hire for juniors too!
FULL COST OF GOING SOLO
That’s all great, but I just want to know how much it will cost me in the end!
Ok, lets add it all up! If you fly regularly you can realistically expect to go solo in around 30 flights. This means the cost of going from your first flight to solo is roughly:
GFA Membership (Junior/Student)
Club Membership (Junior/Student)
Launches (at $55 each)
Glider Hire (assuming an average of 30 minute flights)
So, this makes a total estimate of about $2700, or about $225 per month.