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Types of Soaring

Saw tooth profile of typical Cross Country Flight

Cumulus Clouds

Broadly speaking, there are three categories that glider flying fits into. Local flying, Cross Country flying and Racing. 

Local flying involves climbs and descents using thermals and the extent of the flight is normally kept within gliding distance of the home gliderport. Local flights can be as short as 20 minutes or as long as 6 hours.

Cross Country is normally abbreviated as XC. XC flight in most of Texas utilizes thermals and involves circling climbs in thermals,  straight cruising flight between thermals and then more climbs in subsequent thermals along your intended route. On most days, the thermals are marked by cumulus clouds which resemble big, fluffy cotton balls. XC flights normally last between two to five hours.

Climbing in thermals involves turning in circles using approximately 45 degrees of bank.

Often times, a plan, or a task is defined before the start of the flight. Tasks form part of both competition and casual cross country flying. More..


Glider Racing is cross country flying in the form of a competition. The challenge is to go around a set of fixed turn points as fast as you can. A flight recorder is used to catch GPS traces and allows full 3D flight replays and analysis. In competitions the trace from this recorder is used to calculate the winner.

Tasks can be of any size and are set to the capabilities of the pilot and glider.