Gliding in Pop Culture

Gliding is no less than a form of art. It is the art of flying high and experiencing freedom. In textbook terminologies, it is a sport as well as a recreational activity in which non-energy-driven glider planes are used to fly and stay high in the sky.

What are glider planes? 

Glider planes are specifically designed aircraft that lacks an engine. There are many distinct types of glider planes including:

1. Paper airplanes: are the simplest type of glider. I’m sure all of us have made them at least once during our childhood.

2. Toy gliders: are common among young students used for fun and to learn about aerodynamics.

3. Hang gliders: are piloted aircrafts made of fabric, commonly used for the sport of hang gliding.

4. Sailplanes: are like standard aircraft, with the same parts and flight control systems but without an engine.

5. space shuttles: as the name gives it away, they are used in space, to return to earth.

How do Glider Plane Functions?

How do Glider Plane Functions

Glider Planes function without the force of thrust unlike powered aircraft, by generating lift, and moving through the air. While doing so they also generate drag force.

History of gliding

Gliding as a sport emerged in the 1920s, right after the Great War, when the use of powered aircraft was banned in Germany. Soon it aroused interest in Great Britain which led to the start of the Real British Gliding Movement. Since then, gliding has evolved. It was officially recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1938 at their Cairo conference as part of an optional group of sports and was staged for the first time in the Summer Olympics 1940.

Gliding as a Sport in Modern Times 

In modern times gliding is known as an adventurous and challenging sport open to all. Tournaments are held all around the globe on local, regional, national, and international levels usually involving hang gliding and paragliding.

Types of Gliding 

Types of Gliding

Nowadays Hang gliding and paragliding are more commonly known.

1. Hang Gliding

It is both recreational and competitive and uses unpowered aircraft made of fabric mostly polyester cloth (to make the wings) along with aluminum alloy.

It involves the suspension of the pilot in a harness through the airframe and the aircraft is controlled by shifting the body weight opposite to a control frame.

Where can you learn to hang gliding?

There are many places certified institutes all around the globe where one can learn how to hang glide from including:

  1. Kitty Hawk Kites, North Carolina, USA.
  2.  Queenstown hangs gliding school, New Zealand.

Top 10 places in the world to visit for hang gliding:

Top 10 places in the world to visit for hang gliding

  • Kitty Hawk Kites, North Carolina, USA
  • Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
  • Interlaken District, Switzerland
  • Kahului, Hawaii
  • La Jolla, California, USA
  • Fethiye, Turkey
  • La Torre, Valle de Bravo, México
  • Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Magaliesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Queenstown, New Zealand

2. Paragliding


Like hang gliding, paragliding is also a competitive sport and recreational activity involving the use of paragliders for flying.

Top Places to visit for Paragliding 

  • Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique.
  • Wengen, Canton of Bern, Switzerland.
  • Queenstown, Otago, New Zealand.
  • Castelluccio, Umbria, Italy.
  • Danyang, South Korea.
  • The Julian Alps, Tolmin and Bohinj Regions, Slovenia.
  • Dune du Pyla, Gironde, France.
  • Seiser Alm, Dolomites, Italy.
Hang Gliding Paragliding
Difficult and more physically demanding Easy and less physically demanding
Takes more time and effort Takes less time to learn
Considered safer Less safe, the pilot is more susceptible to injury

Even though Paragliding is considered safe and involves less risk compared with other forms of gliding one notable incident did occur in February 2018 in South Auckland where Davy Binois was injured while paragliding. His glider lines were struck by a drone. Davy was lucky and was not seriously injured in the crash.

Gliding in Pop Culture

Gliding in Pop Culture

Gliding has been used numerous times in pop culture and is usually shown as a display of adventure. Countless movies and TV shows are seen depicting adrenaline junkies who love the boost of energy and spectacular views they experience from gliding.

Gliding in movies and shows 

1. The Kite Runner (2007)

Who hasn’t seen this incredible movie, which depicts the friendship of 2 boys named Amir and Hassan? They both bond over Kite flying which is a form of gliding. As the title itself suggests, their whole relationship was based on kites as both the boys belonged to opposite socio-economic classes, Hassan was Amir’s servant but Kite flying brought them close.

2. Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (2011)

No one can have missed this remarkable animated movie. It is the 3rd part of the Alvin movies released in 2011. In it, the main lead Dave goes on a hang glider to look for his missing friends Alvin and the other chipmunks.

3. Toy Story 3

Released in October 2010, features an escape scene showing hang gliding.

The main lead of the story, Woody, uses a hang glide to escape through a school full of children from the roof of the building. As soon as he lands his glider is blown away again by the wind and he ends up falling through a tree. Quite an interesting scene it was!

4. Fly Away Home 

In this movie, the father-daughter duo attempts to lead a flock of geese south by air. Two gliders were featured in this movie:

  • The UFM easy riser
  • Cosmos Trike

5. The American sportsman 

American Sportsman was an American television series from 1965 to 1986, aired on the ABC channel. The American sportsman was hosted and produced by Curt Gowdy. It involved the participation of hosts and celebrities in many recreational thrill-seeking activities including hang gliding.

6. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 

It was released in 2007 and depicts the use of gliders for landing purposes.

7. 24 Hour Party people  

It is based on real people and events and involves hang gliding. Tony (Steeve Coogan) does a televised report and goes hang gliding causing multiple injuries to his body along the way.

8. Batman Ninja (2018)

It uses gliders called Bat-gliders. The Bat-Glider is an airborne vehicle used by Batman. Inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s glider designs, it is used by Batman to glide through the sky without being noticed.

Gliding in Games

How is it possible for gliding to not be a part of modern-day games? Here are some famous mobile games involving gliding:

1. Call Of Duty

All the Gen z’s are hooked to this game. It uses gliders at the start of the game, as soon as the players jump out of the plane to land on the battlefield. It has glider wings which are a mix between a hang-glider and a wingsuit used for sky diving operations.

2. Pubg 

Of course, if the call of duty is mentioned how can we miss Pubg? Similar to call of duty gliders are used to land on the battlefield at the start of the game. Along with that, a new motor glider has also been introduced in the game with its recent update. A motor glider allows players to soar the skies on two maps while creating new tactics and ways to rotate.

Multiple other infamous names are either based on gliding or use gliding somewhere along.


Although gliding has been around since before the wright brothers existed, it has made its way out of boring science and has ‘slid’ its way into pop culture recently to the collective approval of the audience.