Lookout and Scan Cycle

Lookout! This glider is way too close.

The objective of this lesson is to demonstrate the lookout and scan cycle. This could save your life, and someone else’s.

Learning Points

The human eye is not very good at seeing other gliders in the sky. When did you see the glider in this picture? How close is it? The small dot that isn’t moving much is very hard to see, but can rapidly become a glider seconds away from impact. So we must consciously scan the sky for potential threats. As we are also trying to fly the glider, we do this in an organised way. We lookout, maintain awareness of our position in the sky, check our instruments and look out again. You will get used to managing your position in the sky by use of peripheral vision with reference to the horizon – although this can be tricky in the bigger hills. You’ll also learn to judge what the instruments are telling you, without having to stare at them. We aim to spend almost all our time looking outside the glider.


Scan the field of view, pausing from time to time, looking above and below the horizon as well as on it. Take time to focus on the distant objects. You’ll need to move your head, not just your eyes, to look round far enough each time. Remember to look overhead as well. If you keep your head moving, you will impress your instructor – and remember, she can’t see out from the rear seat as well as you can from the front!

Demonstration Scenario

This demonstration shows you how to perform a safe, regular lookout, and monitor the instruments, within a basic Scan Cycle.

The pilot demonstrates a Lookout and Scan Cycle
The same video as above, with audio and easy to read descriptions of the process
About the videos

Multiple versions of the videos are being made available:

  • With animation and voiceover.
  • Alternative without the animation graphics.
  • As recorded in Condor Flight School. These will have messages at the top of the screen, with no additional animation or voiceover – that’s the way the Condor cookie crumbles!

The videos are suited to any device that supports YouTube. If you have trouble loading the video in the browser, click on Watch on YouTube in the lower left corner.

Further Reading and References


The GlidingSchool.com lessons were developed for Condor2. They will be updated from time to time. Visit the Downloads page for news of updates, and to request the latest version.

Comments and Feedback

Your comments and feedback would be welcome. Visit the Contact page to send your thoughts.


Join us on the Forums provided by Condor Soaring and GliderPilot.net (the URAS forum).