Gliding is many different things to many different people. For some, it is just a casual hobby, and a way to meet new people. For others, it is an inexpensive way to get airborne. For others, gliding offers the exhilaration of spectacular looking aerobatics. For many, including the competitors in these world championships, it is a cutting edge sport.
For all, though, it is a silent and graceful way of flying without an engine.
Gliding is the ultimate free flying experience. It is a truly diverse sport that can be enjoyed at all levels: from the thriving club scene, to aerobatics, to the international racing competitions, currently dominated by British pilots (with five World Champions).
Gliders soar using the same air currents that birds use to fly, but have also been designed with the kind of aerodynamic efficiency that enables top speeds of up to 170 mph. Distances of over 600 miles have been covered in one day in the UK and heights of almost 40,000 feet have been achieved.
Gliding is also a sport for all ages - from those who go solo on their 16th birthday through their club cadet schemes; there is no upper age limit.
Having learned how to fly the aircraft, students go on to learn how to keep the glider in the air for many hours at a time - often called "soaring".