Lookout and Scan Cycle


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 the Scan Cycle.

Lookout and Scan cycle

The video is best viewed in YouTube in HD in Full Screen mode, to easily see the on-screen messages and instruments during the demonstration. Use view, pause and rewind as needed to grasp the content and timing of the messages displayed, then focus on the action.

Further Reading and References

Gliding From Passenger to Pilot, 2nd Edition: Pages 82-83

BGA Instructors’ Manual, 4th Edition: Section 1, Chapter 5

BGA Instructors’ Reference Cards: Ex 7c

BGA Gliding Basics – Lookout