bg_asw19If you are new to soaring, you are in for a treat as there is no more challenging or rewarding aviation activity.

Soaring pilots routinely climb silently to high altitudes, fly for hundreds of miles and stay up for hours using only their knowledge of natures hidden forces. Some have the idea that soaring is all speed and adrenaline and the sport certainly has these aspects but there is much more.

Soaring is the nexus of nature, art and technology. Modern gliders use super rugged high tech materials in their construction. Sophisticated instrumentation allows pilots to use natures forces efficiently. No other type of aircraft features such refined aerodynamics.

The art of soaring happens when technology, knowledge and skill are blended together in soaring flight.

There is also another surprise awaiting you. Boulder has fantastic soaring conditions all year round. From flights to 40,000 ft in the winter to 1000 km distances in the summer. Combined with a strong club this is the ideal way to start your soaring experience.

Why the SSB?

The Soaring Society of Boulder offers:

  • Over 100 volunteer members, with skills ranging from student pilot to world class competitor.
  • 3 two seat gliders for training and soaring.
  • 2 single place gliders for cross country soaring.
  • All gliders have radios, electronic instruments, oxygen systems, parachutes.
  • 2 radio/transponder equipped tow planes.
  • Volunteer tow pilots.
  • Instruction.
  • World class and year round soaring conditions.
  • Adventures to soaring camps.
  • Monthly meetings.
  • Annual seminars.
  • Friendly members.

Learning to Fly

Your first step is to take an introductory flight in a glider. Commercial gliding operations and many clubs offer introductory flights with licensed instructors or commercial pilots.



A sailplane is normally launched by a power plane (aerotow) or by winch (a wire attached to a powerful engine).


Sources of Lift


Once aloft soaring pilots begin looking for one of three forms of raising air:

  1. Thermals, which are columns of warm, rising air. Once in a thermal the sailplane circles tightly to stay in the lift until high enough to strike out cross-country in search of the next thermal.
  2. Ridge lift, which  is created by wind flowing up the side of a hill.
  3. Wave lift which is an especially exciting form of lift and common in the Boulder area. Like the wave behind a boulder in a stream the air bounces upwards behind mountain ranges. Wave flights can reach altitudes well in excess of 30,000ft.

Gliding flights can be simple, local affairs or achieve great altitudes and distances. For instance, the world altitude record in a glider is more than 49000ft. Distance flights of more than 1000 kilometers (660 miles) have been done. The world distance record currently stands at slightly more than 2000 kilometer