The Honourable Company of Air Pilots incorporating Air Navigators

Air Pilots London Schools Gliding


Each year, a group of City of London Livery Companies led by the Honourable Company of Air Pilots work together to offer the students of secondary schools and academies in the Inner London Boroughs the opportunity to experience a day visit to a gliding club. The students experience a flight in a glider and a measure of associated flying instruction from experienced qualified instructors. The benefits are, however, much wider than just learning about aspects of aviation. The students enjoy a day in a completely Gliding 1different environment where they will interact with committed and enthusiastic volunteers. Students can be seen to grow in confidence during the day as they use life skills to communicate and interact with others in the team. The experience has in many cases helped students to expand their horizons and open their eyes to possible further education and career options as well as more effective behavioural skills. This programme gives an unrivalled opportunity to schools to inspire and reward their pupils. The gliding scheme was started in 2004 by the Air Pilots and is now also supported by The Dyers’, Basketmakers, Bakers, Fuellers, Hackney Carriage Drivers and Vintners’ Livery Companies who all give financial support to their selected schools through the scheme. The livery companies give charitable grants so that the gliding scheme is able to offer schools the opportunity to take a party of students to a gliding school for the day.

From the start of the Schools Gliding Programme, over 20 schools have taken part and around 900 girls and boys have had a flight in a glider. Feedback from the schools which have taken part has been very positive and schools are very keen to participate again in subsequent years. It has been described by some teachers as the best opportunity that they are able to offer their students.

The flights are operated by experienced qualified instructors at either the London Gliding Club, Tring Rd, Dunstable LU6 2JP, near Luton, Bedfordshire, at Lasham Gliding Society, Lasham Airfield, Alton, Hants, GU34 5SS or at Booker Gliding Club, Wycombe Air Park, Marlow, Bucks, SL7 3DP.  The Gliding Clubs are members of the British Gliding Association (BGA) and are Junior Gliding Centres.

Charges and Grants. The commercial rate for a flight is about £90 but, by virtue of charitable support and volunteer instructors, the charge set by the gliding clubs for a school gliding flight is reduced to £48. The grant given by the livery company then covers £40 of this charge so that students are required to pay only £8 per flight which is intended to give an indication of their commitment. In cases of real financial hardship where even the figure of £8 may be too high it might be possible to make this contribution on behalf of the student, but if this arises we must be informed of the situation by the school. The £8 per student must be paid to the Gliding Club by an accompanying teacher at the time of flying or by prepayment by the school. The £40 balance will be invoiced by the gliding club to the Treasurer of the Air Pilots Benevolent Fund. This grant only applies to students but if accompanying teachers wish to fly too, this can be done by separate arrangement with the Gliding Club, outsideGliding 2 the terms of this agreement, at a special price of £70, which must be paid on the day. It will be the school’s responsibility to organise transport and refreshments.

Health and Safety and Risk Assessment.  The Gliding clubs, in conjunction with the school, will also deal with all Health and Safety aspects and will assist schools with the Risk Assessment process with which they are familiar. The Gliding clubs are used to dealing with parties from organisations like the Scouts, Duke of Edinburgh award scheme etc.

Dunstable - The £5m insurance required for its flight operations has been set up by the London Gliding Club. Further information can be found on the LGC website Andrew Roch, Manager, LGC.  Tel; 01582 663419   Fax; 01582 665744   

Lasham - The £3m insurance required for its flight operations has been set up by the Lasham Gliding Society. The minimum age for Gliding at Lasham Gliding Society is 13 years old. At Lasham height must be between a minimum of 5 feet tall and a maximum height of 6 foot 4 inches. Weight must be between a minimum of 7 stone (4kg) and a maximum weight of 16 stone 4 pounds (103kg). Further information can be found on their website              Lasham Gliding – Sharon,  Tel 01256 384900

Booker - The £3m insurance required for its flight operations has been set up by the Booker Gliding Club. The minimum age for Gliding at Booker Gliding Club is 14 years old. At Booker height must be between a minimum of 5 feet tall and a maximum height of 6 foot 3 inches. Weight must be between a minimum of 7 stone (44Kg) and a maximum weight of 16 stone (102Kg). Further information can be found on their website         Tel 01494 442501

Booking Procedure.  The school’s Head teacher, or the teacher running the programme, must first contact John Towell (email to tell us of their wish to book a day’s gliding. Having ensured that funds are available and determined which gliding club has space available you will be advised to contact the appropriate gliding club to make your booking. All arrangements for the gliding programme must then be made between the organiser at the school and the gliding club to establish the date when gliding will take place and the number of students involved. Schools are strongly encouraged to react quickly when offered an opportunity and to confirm an agreed date with the gliding school. When a school has made its booking with the gliding club the organiser must then email John Towell with details, so that a note can be made that funding has now been allocated to it. If the school is unable to confirm a date with the gliding school within a reasonable time the opportunity will be passed to another school. Whilst we have been successful in increasing the funding available we will not be able to satisfy the demand from all the schools who would like to take part. At Dunstable a maximum group size of 12 students will be allowed to take part on any one day and at Lasham the maximum number of students is 10. Please take careful note of any age, height or weight limitations detailed for the gliding clubs in this letter. Two adults must accompany each group. If weather prevents flying on the day, the school and gliding club may be able to arrange another date.    

Cancellations.  If, after making a booking to fly, a school has to withdraw, it is essential that the gliding club is informed as soon as possible. The gliding club will have to cancel arrangements and it is also important so that another school can be offered the opportunity. Failure to inform the gliding club may result in the school being denied the chance to take part in the following year.

The supporting livery companies and gliding clubs hope that London schools will take advantage of, and benefit from, this opportunity that has been so enthusiastically received by the schools and students that have already participated in it.

For further information - please contact  John Towell.   John is an Assistant on the Court of the Honourable Company of Air Pilots     
Tel  01276 476050


Gliding Scholarships

The Air Pilots also offer residential gliding scholarships which are open for application for anyone over the age of 16 (see page 1 of the application form for any additional application criteria)

click this link to access the scholarship section of the website to find out about the scholarship winners from last year and to download the scholarship application forms


Harry Dyer 2015 Winner

In 2014 Jakub Niemiec Jacob Niemiec 2014 Winnerof Bishop Douglass School, Barnet was a recipient of an Air Pilots' Gliding Scholarship 

                    and in 2015 both Harry Dyer of Highams Park School and Mina Khodkameh of City of London Academy, Islington successfully gained gliding scholarship supported by the Air Pilots