Women in Gliding

The YGC has a group of female pilots who are dedicated to the sport of gliding, but they're not the first! Gliding - and aviation - in the UK has many famous pilots, some of whom have had some great achievements. Read more about our famous ladies below.

Gliding is a sport which is open to everyone. Women are equally capable of flying gliders as men, in fact it could be said that in some ways we often make better pilots (*Shhh, don't tell the men!*) as we demonstrate a greater sensitivity to the feel of the aircraft and the air around it. However we often suffer from lower confidence in our abilities, which may explain why there are fewer women in gliding than men.
However we have female members who've made a career out of flying after learning in a glider. Take Bryony Toon for example, a talented glider pilot who also flew our fleet of tugs and went on to become an airline pilot.

Flying a glider doesn't require physical strength, just the ability to fly the glider well and 'read' the sky to make the most of the weather. We have a team of instructors (both female and male) who will teach you to fly using an approved BGA training syllabus, so everyone is trained to the same standard. Once you've learned to fly and gone solo, you might wish to fly the glider 'cross-country', which involves using the energy in the sky to fly to different places. Some of these might be miles away; flights of 100-200 miles are common and it's possible to go even further once you're skilled enough!
Again, our skilled team of instructors will guide you towards this goal, and you'll find lots of encouragement from the other members - lots of us have been there!

There's nothing nicer than sitting in the cockpit on a warm summer's day, under a blue sky! It gives you a sense of freedom that you don't often get in day to day life. It sounds corny, but it really is as close to being a bird as you'll ever get!

The UK has a Women's Gliding Team who fly in competitions worldwide and hold several records. These lovely ladies also head a group who support and encourage women in gliding! Their website has all sorts of useful information for ladies who glide. and ladies who want to learn to glide!

Famous ladies in gliding

Amy_Johnson_portrait Notable British ladies include Amy Johnson, CBE. One of the world's most famous 'aviatrix', she learned to fly gliders at the Yorkshire Gliding Club in the early 1930s. She was a ferry pilot in the Air Transport Auxiliary and delivered various aircraft to airfields around the UK during the war. She also became the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia and completed many other challenges before her untimely death in 1941. Who knows what other great achievements she could have had, and how she could have continued to inspire women in aviation?
moya-johnson-youth Another home-grown lady pilot at the YGC was the fondly-remembered Moyra Johnson. Moyra was not related to Amy Johnson, despite the shared surname.

Moyra learned to fly at the YGC aged 20, training in a T21 (pictured right) and going solo in a Kirby Kite (pictured left). She lived in York and was a member of the club for many years until her death in 2013. She was also the club's president and attended most of the club's social occasions. She was a lovely lady and very interesting to talk to, having great knowledge. She is sadly missed by the club.

In 2014, the club invested in a new towing aircraft, a EuroFox ultralight. We registered it as G-MOYR in Moyra's honour.


Another of their famous contemporaries was Ann Welch, OBE, a lady who has been described as 'the world's most famous glider pilot'. Ann learned took her first flight in a biplane, aged just 13, and was inspired to learn to fly. She joined the London Gliding Club (Dunstable), aged 20 and learned to fly gliders. In 1938 she helped to form the Surrey Gliding Club. Like Amy, Ann joined the ATA as a ferry pilot and spent the war delivering Spitfires, Hurricanes and Blenheim bombers to airfields around the UK. By the end of the war, she had over 150 aircraft types in her logbook.
Flying gliders, Ann beat several women's records including the distance record for a flight of 528 Km and won several competitions. She was awarded the British Women Pilots Association premier award for lifetime service in 2002, but sadly died three days before the ceremony took place. She was a great lady and is sadly missed.

Further information

If you're interested in learning to fly, then please come along and have a Trial Lesson with us to see if you like it.

You can also find out more about gliding, and funding which you might be able to get to help you learn to fly from these sources: