flying experience

Motorgliders give you the best of both worlds

You’ve heard of light aircraft, and you’ve almost certainly heard of gliding. But what about motorgliding? Not many people are aware that motorgliders offer the best of both worlds, so if you’re struggling to choose between flying a light aircraft and flying a glider, motorgliding could be for you. In this post, we’re going to introduce you to motorgliding and explain what’s so great about it.

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What is a motorglider?

The short answer is: exactly what it says on the tin! It’s a glider with a motor. This means that it has long wings like a glider, but it has an engine, so it can get off the ground of its own accord, without the need for a winch or aerotow. Because it has long wings, you can turn the engine off in flight and use it as a glider. Not only does this mean you can enjoy a quieter flight, but it also saves lots of money on fuel! Because of the extra weight of having an engine on board, it probably won’t fly as far as a glider, so you’d need a nice thermic day to enjoy soaring in a motorglider.

Types of motorglider

Motorgliders come in many shapes and sizes. Some are really just gliders with a small propeller that pops out of the back to get them airborne, and once airborne the pilot retracts the propeller and uses the aircraft as a normal glider. These could be described as ‘self-launching motorgliders’ (SLMG). Other motorgliders – ‘touring motorgliders’ – are basically just light aircraft but with longer wings, and can be used for long-distance journeys, with the engine remaining switched on the whole time, just like any other light aircraft. Unlike gliders, they can be used to get to places because they’re able to take off under their own steam. Here are some of the most common motorglider types in the UK.

Slingsby T61 Venture

Motorgliding

First flown in 1971, these basic motorgliders – also known as Falkes or Ventures – were used by the RAF to train new pilots. With a cruise speed of around 60kts, they’re on the slow side, but they make great training aircraft as they’re quite tricky to fly.

Scheibe SF25

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The SF25 is similar to the Venture – it’s the earlier German version, first flown in 1963, upon which the Venture was based – but in many ways it’s better. The SF25 comes in several versions, with single, double or tricycle undercarriage and different sizes of engine. They have a cruise speed of 70-80kts, so they’re a bit quicker than the Venture.

Grob 109

Image from Wikipedia

The Grob 109 is very popular in both civilian and military flying schools, and replaced the T61 Venture as RAF cadet training aircraft (it’s known by the RAF as the Vigilant T1). The Grob 109 had its first flight in 1980 and is still used by the RAF today.

Dimona

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Diamond Super Dimona, parked next to a T61 Venture, with a Grob 109 behind

The Dimona is a contemporary of the Grob 109, designed by Wolff Hoffman and manufactured by Diamond aircraft. This fibreglass aircraft comes in ‘taildragging’ (with a tailwheel) and tricycle undercarriage versions. The so-called ‘Super Dimona’ is the same aircraft with a few small differences, the main one being that it has a more powerful engine. With a cruise speed of around 90 to 100kts, these are somewhat speedier than the Venture and SF25, and they have feathering propellers, designed to make them more aerodynamic when soaring with the engine off.

What are motorgliders used for?

The most common use for motorgliders in the UK is as RAF Air Cadet training aircraft and in gliding clubs. Many gliding clubs have a motorglider as part of their fleet as a means of carrying out additional training for glider pilots. They are a convenient way of making the transition from gliding to powered aircraft, and they can also be used for gliding exercises and tests. There are very few flying clubs dedicated solely to motorgliding; our sister company MotorGlide is one, and it comes under the umbrella of the British Gliding Association.

Switching the engine off: should I be scared?

We’ve found that some of our passengers are alarmed at the prospect of switching the engine off in flight. While it does feel counterintuitive to switch off the engine in flight, there really is nothing to be worried about! With those long wings, a motorglider is designed to be flown with the engine off and will go a lot further than a normal light aircraft would without an engine. What’s more, the engine can simply be switched back on when you’re ready to land or if you’re getting too low. In the meantime, your instructor will be looking for thermals, which are rising columns of air that allow the aircraft to gain altitude and therefore time in the air, just like a glider.

5 reasons to try a motorglider experience

In case you hadn’t realised, we’re big fans of motorgliding here at Air Experiences! If you needed any more persuading, here are our top five reasons for trying a motorglider experience…

  1. You’ll be able to say you’ve tried gliding AND light aircraft flights!
  2. Motorgliding is cheaper than a light aircraft flying experience, especially if you come back to fly regularly.
  3. Motorgliders offer a gentler take-off experience than the scarily steep climb you’d get in a glider on a winch launch.
  4. It’s the perfect experience for those looking for something a bit different from the ordinary.
  5. It’s nice and quiet with the engine turned off – just the sound of the wind whistling past.

If you’re interested in experiencing what it’s like to fly a motorglider, try one of our Best of Both flying experiences. We have motorgliding locations at Wellesbourne Mountford Airfield near Stratford-upon-Avon and near Oxford. If you’d like to go a step further and learn to fly one, check out our sister company, MotorGlide.

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Treat someone to a flight this Christmas

The Christmas orders are already starting to roll in here at Air Experiences, so we thought we’d give you some inspiration if you’re thinking about buying a flying lesson for someone this Christmas. We have a great choice of experiences suitable for all your friends and family, so if you’re struggling to think of what to buy for someone, have a read of this guide and find the perfect gift for the person who has everything…

Light aircraft flying lesson

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Light aircraft are the standard small planes you see buzzing around the sky. They usually seat between two and four people, and common types include the Cessna 152 pictured above. Flights in a light aircraft are suitable for pretty much anyone. Starting at just £50, they’re a great option if you’re on a budget, and all our light aircraft flying lessons give you the chance to have a go at the controls if you wish. What’s more, they all count towards your Private Pilot’s Licence, so if your friend or relative decides to take their flying further after their lesson, they’re part of the way there already! Or how about a flight for two, this is ideal for a romantic couple or take the family flying.

Helicopter flying lessons

Learn to fly a Helicopter

 

A helicopter flying lesson is the perfect gift if you really want to splash out. By their very nature, they’re pricier than light aircraft (those moving bits don’t come cheap…), but the thrill of a helicopter flight is unforgettable. The helicopter shown here is the Robinson R22, but there’s a four-seat version too, meaning that your friend or relative might even be able to let you accompany them in the back seat if you want to.

Gliding lessons

Gliding Aerotow

Gliders look a bit like light aircraft, but they have very long wings and no engine or propeller; you can find out more about how gliders work here. Gliding is an experience anybody can enjoy, but we’d recommend going for a gliding aerotow voucher if you think your friend or relative might want a gentler experience; a winch launch is thrilling, but it’s not ideal for a nervous flyer as the climb rate is fast and steep. Gliding lessons start at just £49, so it’s a very affordable way of experiencing flight.  We also offer gliding courses for those whom you think might want to take up gliding; our gliding mini course gives you a half-day of gliding with four or five flights depending on the weather and how long each flight is. It’s a great introduction to learning to fly gliders, and many of our gliding clubs give you three months of free membership so that you can go back and fly again at club rates while you decide whether to join up.

Microlight flying lessons

Win a Microlight Flight

Microlight flying lessons are the perfect gift for those who are a little more adventurous. With their open cockpit, flying one feels more exposed than in other forms of flying, but it’s an experience like no other. It’s something a bit different, and from our microlight base here in the Midlands you’ll be able to see sights such as Warwick Castle and Shakespeare’s home town of Stratford-upon-Avon. You can fly a microlight for as little as £45, so it’s the perfect budget option.

Aerobatic experiences

aerobatic

Know someone who’s a bit of a thrill-seeker? Then our aerobatics experiences might be just the thing for them this Christmas. Perfect for adrenaline junkies, an aerobatic flight lets them experience some of the moves you normally see from the ground at airshows, such as rolls and loops. It’s not for the faint-hearted, but rollercoaster fans will love it!

Motorglider flights

Motorgliding

Motorgliding is the ideal ‘best of both worlds’ experience, making it the one to go for if you can’t decide between gliding and light aircraft. A motorglider is a plane, with an engine and propeller, but it has long wings like a glider. On some of our motorglider flights, we can even turn the engine off mid-flight so that you get to experience both gliding and powered flight in the same experience.

Vintage aircraft flights

1000 Pixel Wide Yellow Moth Finals at Kemble

For those who are nostalgic about days gone by, our vintage aircraft flights take you back in time to the age of early aviation, when biplanes such as the De Havilland Tiger Moth ruled the skies. You can combine a vintage aircraft experience with a day out at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford, or you could treat someone to a ‘Best of Both’ vintage and modern aircraft experience, which can include aerobatics if they want.

All our vouchers are valid for ten months, and you can choose between an e-voucher or a printed voucher, the latter presented in a gold envelope ready to go under the tree. If you order before the end of November, you can also take advantage of our special offer of 40% off half-hour light aircraft flights in the Midlands. Order yours now!

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