Flight simulators offer you the chance to try your hand at piloting everything from Spitfires to Space Shuttles, Jumbos to Jet Fighters. Curiously, no-one had brought out a gliding variant... until now, that is, with the release of Glider Pilot by CRL.
The main (and somewhat obvious) difference between a glider and a normal aircraft is the lack of an engine! No longer can you bank to one side, increase your thrust and head towards your next objective. The only way you can climb in a glider is to seek out columns of rising air (thermals) and use them to assist you. This immediately brings about the first problem. How do you depict a thermal on-screen? CRL's answer is to use a beeping sound (which can't be switched off) in conjunction with your altimeter.
The simulation itself puts you into a cross country flight in a high performance competition glider. You have to complete a triangular course in the shortest possible time. How difficult you want to make that task can be selected from a series of menus before you start. When you finish (or crash!) you get a graph of your flight showing where and when you wasted time by making inefficient use of thermals.
Unless your name is Alcock or Brown, the essential ingredient of any flight simulatory program is an excellent manual which tells you what the controls are, what they do and how they fit into the overall scheme of things. This should preferably be accompanied by a demo-mode in the program so that you can get some idea of how your "aircraft" responds. Unfortunately, this is where Glider Pilot loses marks. No doubt the event small pages of instruction make a great deal of sense to the qualified pilot who wrote the game, but every beginner I showed it to though it badly ordered and in some places totally incomprehensible. For example, I couldn't find any reference to the assorted noises the program was making at me until I read the section on Advanced Techniques.
If you enjoy flight simulation programs, then you will find that Glider Pilot presents you with an interesting set of problems. If, however, you are looking for your first program in this field, then I would strongly recommend that you start elsewhere and work your way up to this one.