Large and Small Pilots

Gliders can take a wide range of different shapes and sizes of pilot:

  • There is an upper weight limit of 110kg (242lb, 17st 4lb) for most aircraft. This is a safety limit based on the design of the seat and straps, and includes the weight of the parachute. The upper weight limit for the pilot is therefore 100kg, about 16 stones.
  • There is a lower weight limit which applies to the front seat, and varies from aircraft to aircraft. The range at Stratford is about 55kg to 70kg (123 to 154lb, 8st 11lb to 11st). This limit is concerned with the position of the Centre of Gravity of the aircraft, and the aircraft becomes unstable if it is too light at the front. The variance is caused by minor things such as the thickness of the coat of paint on the tail.We have ballast, in the form of a parachute and lead weights, which can add 30-35lb to the weight of the pilot. If this isn’t enough, though, you can still fly in the back seat, where the lower limit doesn’t apply.
  • The upper height limit for a pilot depends to some extent on the ratio of body length to leg length, and some aircraft are more restrictive than others. 6’4″ (193cm) is a typical pilot height limit.
  • The lower height limit is 4’9″ (145cm) standing. The lower weight and age limits usually come into play first.
  • There is no upper age limit, although certain infirmities can cause a problem. We will ask you to sign a Medical Disclaimer before you fly. The oldest person we can recall flying with was an 84-year-old lady, who loved it!
  • The lower age limit for a Trial Lesson is “old enough to accept and act on verbal instruction”. Here are our rules about Young Visitors.You can’t fly solo until you are 14, so we normally don’t start teaching pilots under 13.