How to Fly a Walkalong Glider Using Controllable Slope Soaring

Good designs for walkalong gliders must be stable in freeflight and fly slow enough that a person can keep up with the glider as it flies. At right a person flies a walkalong glider using a large piece of foamboard as a controllable slope to both sustain and control the walkalong glider (photo by Joe Andrade).
The controllable slope produces a region or wave of rising air in a similar manner as a ridge produces rising air when the wind blows perpendicular to the axis of the ridge (diagram at right).

For straight and level flight, the glider is balanced over the region of rising air (diagram at right, side view) and the controllable slope is horizontal (diagram at right, front view).

 To gain altitude, the controllable slope is brought closer to the glider to place the glider in the region of maximum lift.

Banking the glider is achieved by angling the controllable slope relative to the horizontal. Gentle bank is used to change the heading of the glider and opposite bank is applied to roll out to a straight heading.


Raising or lowering the nose is accomplished by moving the controllable slope fore or aft relative to the glider. Moving forward causes more lift to the nose and the glider pitches up. Simply raising the nose of a glider results in a reduction of airspeed and will not result in a significant gain in altitude. Too much nose up may reduce the airspeed to the point where the glider stalls with the nose pitching down suddenly.

Copyright Phil Rossoni 2011