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glider

glider, type of aircraft resembling an airplane but having at most a small auxiliary propulsion plant and usually no means of propulsion at all. The typical modern glider has very slender wings and a streamlined body. The unpowered variety is launched by an elastic shock cord, a rope, or a cable, attached to the front of the glider and pulled by a launching crew, a winch, a tow car, or a tow plane. Gliders can be towed behind airplanes over great distances. The powered variety can take off and climb on its own.

The glider uses gravity and updrafts of air to keep it flying; slope soaring relies on wind rising off dunes or hillsides, while thermal soaring exploits convection currents in the air. In soaring the glider is repeatedly maneuvered through updrafts to reach altitudes as high as 46,000 ft (14,000 m). It can then glide down through air that is not rising. In a powered glider the engine can be turned on to keep the glider aloft when there are no updrafts. A sailplane, a glider which is built especially for soaring and sustained flight, can travel as much as 500 mi (800 km) in this manner. The usual flight controls in a glider consist of a pedal to operate the rudders and a control stick to operate the elevators and ailerons.

Otto and Gustav Lilienthal of Germany made the first successful piloted glider flight in 1891. The Lilienthals demonstrated the superiority of curved over flat surfaces in flight and encouraged others to make glider experiments, at least until Otto's death in a glider crash in 1896. At the beginning of the 20th cent. the Wright brothers constructed and flew many gliders. They introduced land skids, wing warping, and other improvements that characterize present-day gliders. In World War II troop-transport gliders were used for aerial invasions. The gliders were launched and towed by cargo aircraft to the invasion area, where they were released.

Early gliders were launched from hills or by running forward; the machine maintained stability while in flight by the pilot's shifting body weight. These techniques have been resurrected in modern hang gliding, a development based on NASA experiments with flexible-wing gliders in the 1950s. The hang glider, with nylon or Kevlar stretched over an aluminum frame, can reach an altitude of 20,000 ft (6,100 m) and stay aloft up to 15 hours; in 1979 five hang glider pilots flew their machines (fitted with auxiliary motors) across the United States. A paraglider is an parachutelike airfoil made of nylon and Mylar from which the pilot is suspended by a series of ropes. Paraglider pilots must "kite" —raise the airfoil into the air by running and using the wind—before launching themselves from a cliff or the like.

See T. L. Knauff, Glider Basics from First Flight to Solo (1982); D. Piggott, Gliding (5th ed. 1987).

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"glider." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 13 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Gliders

GLIDERS

GLIDERS. The military glider, unique to World War II, became obsolete after the war as aviation developed, especially with the production of successful helicopters.

The Germans conducted the first glider mission in 1940. Recognizing the possibilities, the British and Americans implemented their own glider programs designed to discharge, in a small area, large numbers of fully armed troops ready for immediate combat, thus eliminating the costly time required to assemble paratroopers. Gliders also made it possible to deliver vehicles and weapons too heavy for parachutes.

The Germans made the most imaginative use of gliders to land troops silently on top of the Belgian Fort Eben-Emael in May 1940. Within ten minutes they blinded that great fortress, virtually putting it out of action. In May 1941 the only large-scale employment of gliders by the Luftwaffe played a significant role in Operation Merkur, the successful airborne assault on Crete. A daring, small-scale glider mission liberated Benito Mussolini from imprisonment at Gran Sasso in the Abruzzi Mountains in Italy in 1943. Elsewhere, minor glider missions substituted when transport aircraft operations were not feasible.

Allied forces used gliders on a larger scale. The first operation, in 1943, a British-American assault on Sicily, provided valuable experience despite being inept and costly. Use of gliders on D day in Normandy was largely successful but indecisive. The largest Allied glider mission, part of Operation Market-Garden in September 1944, employed 2,596 gliders to secure a bridgehead across the Rhine River at Arnhem, Netherlands, but had limited success. Operation Varsity, the last glider operation of the war, near Wesel, Germany, on 23 March 1945, employed 1,348 gliders and was considered a tremendous success.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Craven, Wesley F., and James Lea Cate, eds. The Army Air Forces in World War II. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1950–1958.

U.S. Air Force. USAF Historical Studies, Air Force Historical Research Agency, nos. 1, 97, and 167.

John A.McQuillenJr./c. w.

See alsoD Day ; World War II, Air War against Germany .

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glider

glid·er / ˈglīdər/ • n. 1. a light aircraft that is designed to fly for long periods without using an engine. 2. a person or thing that glides: the flying lemur is an efficient glider as well as climber. 3. a long swinging seat suspended from a frame in a porch.

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"glider." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 13 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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glider

gliderbidder, consider, Jiddah, kidder, whydah •bewilder, builder, guilder, Hilda, Matilda, St Kilda, Tilda, tilde •Belinda, Cabinda, cinder, Clarinda, Dorinda, hinder, Kinder, Linda, Lucinda, Melinda, tinder •Drogheda • shipbuilder • bodybuilder •coachbuilder • boatbuilder • Candida •spina bifida •calendar, calender •Phillida • cylinder • Phasmida •Andromeda • Mérida • Florida •Cressida • lavender • provender •chider, cider, divider, eider, glider, Guider, Haida, hider, Ida, insider, Oneida, outsider, provider, rider, Ryder, Saida, slider, spider, strider, stridor •Wilder •binder, blinder, finder, grinder, kinda, minder, ringbinder, winder •Fassbinder • spellbinder • highbinder •bookbinder • pathfinder •rangefinder • viewfinder • backslider •paraglider • childminder • outrider •joyrider • roughrider • ringsider •Tynesider • sidewinder

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