Wikipedia Reference Information
Gliding (also known as soaring) is a recreational activity and competitive sport in which pilots fly un-powered aircraft known as gliders or sailplanes. Properly, the term gliding refers to descending flight of a heavier-than-air craft, whereas soaring is the correct term to use when the craft gains altitude or speed from rising air.
After launching, glider pilots search for rising air to gain height. If conditions are good enough, experienced pilots can fly many hundreds of kilometres before returning to their home airfields and occasionally flights over 1,000 kilometres are made. However, if the weather deteriorates, they may need to land elsewhere, but some can avoid this by using engines.
While many glider pilots merely enjoy the sense of achievement, some competitive pilots fly in races around pre-defined courses. These competitions test the pilots' abilities to make best use of local weather conditions as well as their flying skills. Local and national competitions are organized in many countries and there are also biennial World Gliding Championships.
Powered aircraft and winches are the two most common means of launching gliders. These and other methods (apart from self-launching motor-gliders) require assistance from other participants. Gliding clubs have thus been established to share airfields and equipment, train new pilots and maintain high safety standards.
The complete, up-to-date and editable article about Gliding can be found at Wikipedia: Gliding