The Dutch Gliding Club—Why We Fly

About the author:

Max Bloch: Instructor, Examiner, Contest Pilot (Nationals) and former Nationals Contest Director (6 Dutch Nationals). Started flying at the age of 15, over 1500 flying hours.

Why we fly instead of learning to fly….

The Dutch Gliding Club: “Gelderse Zweefvliegclub” achieved during this year (2012) the unbelievable Top-ranking of : Dutch, European as well as  World Club Champion of the OLC contest. 90 Pilots flew over 283.266km X-Country within The Netherlands, Europe, Africa, Australia and the USA.

Of course this  major achievement facilitated by the OLC Team,  will be celebrated here in Holland. However more important is,  that X-Country flying and making this visible for ALL  by the use of Internet,  will help you to grow as a club, Gliding Nation and as a  soaring Community in total.  It’s now time to share our thoughts and philosophy,  which might help you as well.

During  the past years,  the GeZC faced  the same problems as many other clubs. Members became older, we spend a lot of effort in training and still number’s where declining…
During the first 2 years of a membership,  we lost 50% of the students and after 10 years of each 10 persons only one or two were still flying…
Also 50% of the club capital was stuck in training-gliders and only the fortunate ones bought  private gliders,  the rest was lost over the years. In the long term it would mean that not only the “Gelderse” but every club would become a bunch of elderly people talking about the past and would fly only on rear occasions.

We analyzed the situation and asked ourselves “what is the key ingredient to keep one soaring?”. Most of the persons who did fly after 5 years of membership,  where either: Staff, Instructor or Contest/X-Country pilot. Within the group of Instructor’s not that many did fly X-Country,  they mainly instructed others. We also came to the conclusion that after the basic flying training and solo flying, motivation of a person vanished simply,  by the fact that we had learn them how to fly , but never showed our students the reason why we fly.

So we shifted from “learning to fly” towards “why we fly”.

This was the first little step and though we took students on X-Country flights, this was still not enough. Of course they very much enjoyed the flight’s but didn’t realize , that with a Glider Pilot License, one can simply take out a Glider to go for  such a flight. Still we had to make these fresh pilots aware,  that X-Country flying is not what “they” do but what “we” do.

During winter-time we started with X-Country training. Theory for our students and as more clubs in The Netherlands had the same problems, we did invite them to join as well and started the Program SION, which facilitates X- Country flying for beginners , a course with Flying coaches for one week for those who are interested. This all was  nation-wide organized , so we , the “Gelderse” spread out the news (and our wings) and started with telling about X-Country flying , along facilitating the X-Country flying of our pilots.

At the same time the OLC was introduced in the Netherlands and over the years became more and more popular. The OLC shows the Pilot and also the whereabouts of the pilot during that day , instead of someone who mounts the glider, starts, vanishes and after a couple of hours reappears out of the (almost) blue sky. And some one, which you might find at the end of the day with a cold beer at the bar talking about something you didn’t experience yourself. So the OLC makes it possible to share the experience with your fellow -members and the fun part is of course the scoring.

SION had also an off-spring named TABOE which is a dedicated training-program for those who want to become skilled in Speed-X-Country and Contest Flying. This program is nation-wide. Within the “Gelderse” we also have an annual Internal Coaching Competition where our Top-Pilots share their knowledge and enthusiasm for competition X-Country flying by coaching on the job.

In the last 2 years we had at Terlet (the Dutch National Glider Center) the area in Holland with the best thermal conditions and where the “Gelderse” started flying back in 1932, serious problems. One of the 5 users of this glider-site went bankrupt , leaving all of its pilots out in the cold. Most of these pilots (100) where warmly adopted by the “Gelderse” meaning a growth of one third in numbers. Most of these pilots also contributed their flights and are part of the 2012 success.

How did we achieve our 2012 goals: becoming Club World Champion OLC?  

By simply asking Club members to share their flights on the OLC and communicating about the actual Club position over the year.  That way we achieved more and more OLC awareness, which resulted in the final score (with pride) J

For 2013 we set the goal on 1000 flights with >100 pilots ,which will result in …..let’s wait and see?

About: the “Gelderse Zweefvliegclub”

Ø  Established in 1932 so currently 80 years young!

Ø  Located at Terlet (Dutch National Gliding Center ) North of Arnhem in the Eastern part of Holland

Ø  Website:

Ø  Note: SION:

Ø  Note: TABOE:

Ø  Facebook:!/GelderseZweefvliegclub

Ø  12 club gliders (2x ASK-21,1x ASK-23,2xLS4,2xDiscus,1xLS-8(18m),1xLS-6(18m),2x Duo-Discus

Ø  2 x 4 cable winch, one Husky tug

Ø  Over 50 privately owned gliders  (K-6 up to Nimbus 4DM)

Ø  250 members, of which several are member of the Dutch (Junior) Gliding team, 30 Instructors and ~40 persons < 25 of age

Ø  The GeZC offers their members all services, from basic flying training,  X-Country, up to JWC Contest Flying almost 7 days a week.

Ø  OLC 2012: Europe: 210.000 KM, Africa: 51.000 km, Australia: 16.500KM and USA 13.500KM flown by 90 pilots