The FAI Gliding Commission (IGC) conducts FAI's gliding activities, in particular World Records and International Competitions with the exception of glider aerobatics.
Gliding involves engineless aircraft that move by use of raising air known as thermals, which are cause by the sun heating the ground which in turn heats the air above it; after locating a thermal, a glider pilot will circle within the area of rising air to gain height. Other types of rising air include ridge lift, mountain waves and convergences of different air masses.
International Championships are run all over the world. Pilots selected on the basis of their results in competitions at home can enter biennial FAI European Gliding Championships which alternate with World Championships. In an European Championships year, there are also separate World Championships for Junior pilots, up to their 26th birthday year and for female pilots. The separate female competitions were established not to discriminate but to encourage women to take their flying further as many fail to do due to the demands of family and other duties.
The FAI Sailplane Grand Prix sees the world's best glider pilots compete in the Final after qualifying from events around the world. Races have a simple regatta start and a first-over-the-line finish, and are designed to be exciting for spectators and raise gliding's profile in the media; GPS technology enable spectators to follow aircrafts' progress live on the internet.