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Has any airliner ever collided with a glider?

Yes. (I found this by Aaron Holmes's hint that he searched only English sources.) On 1999 Feb 12 at 3:40 pm, a Grob G103 sailplane F-CGXB (possibly "in wave flight") collided with an Airbus ...
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44 votes
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Can fighter aircraft glide?

All airplanes can glide, if they couldn't they wouldn't be able to fly in the first place. When you glide an aircraft you are converting height into airspeed, which you can use to move across the ...
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40 votes
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Why can gliders fly for so long?

A glider and a paper airplane operate on the same principle: Exchanging whatever potential energy (altitude) they have for the kinetic energy (airspeed) required to keep air moving over the wings so ...
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40 votes
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Why are birdlike airfoils not used?

Early biplanes did use similar airfoils. Not as extreme as the Eppler 376, but still very thin and highly cambered. When Otto Lilienthal started his glider experiments, he tried to copy storks. He ...
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33 votes

Can fighter aircraft glide?

All airplanes can glide. Some glide better than others. A very old reference I read talked about engine-out landings in military aircraft. Their procedure was arrive at the airfield at X feet, circle ...
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33 votes
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What emergency situation can pilots encounter in gliders/non-powered aircraft?

The number one emergency in a glider is a tow rope break at low altitude, less than 200 feet above the ground with no appreciable headwind. Below 200 feet, the proper technique is to land straight ...
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33 votes

Can you fly a glider in a cloud on primary instruments?

With basic instruments (altimeter, speed and climb indicator and compass): Forget it! A glider can enter a cloud when thermalling into it from below. Below the cloud the rising air was governed by ...
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32 votes

Is it normal for gliders not to have attitude indicators?

Yes, it is normal. With very rare exceptions, gliders are not allowed to operate in IMC (instrument Meteorological Conditions) and must remain clear of clouds. There are also powered aircraft that do ...
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32 votes
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Would building a large asphalt square or painted dark black area create a "thermal generator" for glider use?

Yes, if it was large enough you could expect decent thermals from it, but not all the time. I've flown over mall parking lots where there is maybe 20 acres of asphalt, expecting a boomer, but no joy. ...
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31 votes

Why are the wingtips of sailplanes painted red?

White is indeed chosen for thermal reasons. Gliders use epoxy resins which cure at room temperature and are then tempered at 60°C. This tempering shifts the glass transition temperature to something ...
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31 votes
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Will dual-learning in a glider make my airplane learning safer?

Yes learn both, but... not at the same time. As Dave says, there are too many differences to be absorbing simultaneously. It's like a new airline pilot taking a type course on a Dash 8 and an RJ at ...
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  • 105k
31 votes

Can you ride a storm to save fuel?

Not storms, but there is a concept called "Pressure Pattern Flying" where you plan routing to stay in favourable circulation around Highs and Lows, to the extent that deviations to follow ...
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30 votes
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Are there any gliders that can fly over the Himalayas?

Do gliders (sailplanes) use ridge and wave lift in the Himalayas to go to extreme altitudes, possibly above Everest's peak? Yes, there are gliders touring Himalayan peaks over 8,000m, including ...
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27 votes

Can fighter aircraft glide?

Yes, all aircraft have a glide ratio. On many of the higher-performance fighters, it's 1:1 at best (1 foot altitude traded for one foot forward gliding). Many of the newer fighter aircraft are ...
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27 votes
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When flying a glider in emergency situation, would it be more safe to bailout or to land in a forest?

Thankfully, I never had to make this choice. In my training I learned to stay in the plane and flare at the height of the treetops, then let the plane sink into the branches and have them stop and ...
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27 votes

Why are winches not used for towing commercial planes up?

If you ever get the chance, do try a winch start in a glider. It is, to say the least, an interesting experience. I do not believe it would be accepted by the general public. So, that is one more ...
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  • 1,476
27 votes

Why aren't any wingsuits able to sustain flight?

I'm aware that under zero power it is a glider, but there are gliders that sustain flight and have enough lift to climb etc. This statement is a bit incorrect. Gliders don't climb like aircraft as ...
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27 votes
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Plane that always flies into the wind?

The short answer is no. All the glider feels is its flight relative to the air. What the ground is doing beneath it is not relevant, the wind could be blowing a hundred kilometers an hour and the ...
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26 votes

Why are winches not used for towing commercial planes up?

I won't prove it's not possible, but I'd would be surprised it is. I'll develop the reasons why and provide the physical framework you can use to compute a solution to have, with some effort, a final ...
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26 votes

Are gliders susceptible to bird strikes?

Gliders, as every other aircraft, are susceptible to bird strikes. This is a detached glider's tail after hitting a 10 kg vulture: The accident was caused when the crew lost control of ...
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  • 4,098
26 votes

Why are 3- or 4-seat gliders so rare?

Because much of the fun in being in a sailplane, is in actually flying the sailplane. It's not a means to get from point A to point B, it's a means to enjoy the magic of flight, much of which ...
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25 votes
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Is it safe to fly a glider when I can't move the stick fully left and right?

Yes, it is safe. Well, there is a reason why the stick travels as far as it does. One is the restriction in long-term maximum stick forces of 15 N (see §22.143(b) in the linked PDF), which is easier ...
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25 votes
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Are glider winch launches rarer in the USA than in the rest of the world? Why?

To expand on Quiet Flyer's answer, it's technical and economic at the same time. Technical: Winch is limiting because you are deposited in the same spot over the field, whereas a tow, if the pilot ...
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24 votes
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How can the Pipistrel Apis land safely?

Many modern gliders only have one wheel -- two is a great luxury! In a glider the wing and flight controls remain effective until the aircraft is almost completely stopped - with a little training ...
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24 votes
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What is the most 'environmentally friendly' way to learn to fly?

Here are some options for flying in an environmentally friendly way: Use an electric trainer: Since last year the all electric trainer aircraft Pipistrel Alpha Electro has FAA certification. Assuming ...
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  • 45k
23 votes
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Should head stay level or inclined in a bank?

I am not a glider pilot, but the principle holds for flying any fixed wing aircraft1: you should keep your head level with the aircraft, as you described, not the horizon. As your instructor ...
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22 votes
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Is there a maximum lift to drag ratio?

With current technology the L/D might go up to 70 or 75, and going higher would require an almost impractically large wing span. Gliders need to fly in tight circles to use updrafts, and the larger ...
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22 votes

Is it feasible to circumnavigate the Earth in a sailplane?

No. Both night and oceans would be major obstacles. Night time can be survived by parking the glider in ridge lift but it requires a steady wind during the night. This is possible and has been ...
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21 votes
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Why do sailplanes have such large tails?

Keep in mind that not all sailplanes are designed for extremely light weight. Decreasing the weight also decreases the minimum sink rate, but doesn't help the still-air glide ratio, and actually ...
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21 votes

Why do the ailerons of this flying wing work oppositely compared to those of an airplane?

Most likely the adverse yaw effect (due to the induced drag of the increased lift on the down-aileron side) is causing the wing to yaw the opposite direction from the intended roll, and the yaw causes ...
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