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Wanna Fly? Ride A Glider and Soar!

Aug 17, 2007
Have you ever wondered how it felt to fly? Did you ever wish you can fly and soar like birds? Then the glider is for you. Gliders are wonderful pieces of machinery and they are what man can use to fly and soar like birds do.

Man's inner wish to fly has been demonstrated in his early inventions. China used manned kites for military reconnaissance in ancient times. It is also believed that the first glider was designed by a friend of Confucius in 500 BC. In 1853, the Coachman Carrier, designed by Sir George Cayley became the first aircraft to fly in Europe.

A glider is a simple unpowered type of aircraft. It is very similar to airplanes, but its absence of a motor separates it from other aircrafts. Like an airplane, its parts include the following:

Gliders are designed to carry at most two people. Though its cockpit is small, it is large enough for the two passengers to squeeze into. Pilots stretch out their legs instead of sitting upright. Like other aircrafts, gliders are created with smooth skin to let the plane glide easily in the air. Compared to their early counterparts, the latest glider models are built using materials such as aluminum, fiberglass, and carbon fiber. These materials are expected to improve performance and enhance the structure of modern gliders.

The wings of a glider have a significant difference from the wings of a conventional airplane. Though they may be similar in function, the wings of a glider are narrower and longer compared to those of the conventional aircraft. This design makes the wings of a glider efficient, though the design is limited to certain degree of narrowness because the longer and skinny wings may not be able to carry the passengers any longer.

Control surfaces
Control surfaces are the sections of the wings and tails that can be moved. These are found on conventional aircrafts and are designed to control the flight direction. In a glider, the movable sections include the ailerons; the elevator, or the horizontal stabilizer; and the rudder, which is the vertical stabilizer. The pilot controls the ailerons and elevator through a control stick between his legs. He then uses foot pedals to control the rudder.

Landing Gear
Due to the simple design of a glider, its landing gear consisting of a single wheel is mounted below its cockpit.

If you ever wonder what a typical glider cockpit looks like, the following can be found:

An altimeter for you to know your altitude;
An air speed indicator to show how fast you travel;
A variometer to tell the behavior of the air around you;
A control stick which is placed between your legs;
A tow rope release knob that you use to unlock the tow rope; and
A radio so you can contact other pilots and other people on the ground.

Gliders can also be divided into two categories: the pure gliders and the sailplanes. Pure gliders are designed for descent purposes only while sailplanes are designed to soar, or to climb into the air. Examples of pure gliders are the military gliders which were used during the World War II. The space shuttles which fly to earth after a space flight are also pure gliders. Sailplanes, on the other hand are designed for sport gliding. They can climb into the air and descent after.
About the Author
James Monahan is the owner and Senior Editor of
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