Towing Gliders

Towing Gliders
By Phil Parmiter

The club tug – A Titan II —- And a 1/4 scale discus released form the tow

Our Exploits at the Chesil model Flying Club started with a home made tug using an irvine 46 engine, which we used to tow rudder/elevator type gliders into the air with great success, even preforming a loop with a glider on tow in our learning stages. In all tows we made the glider was hand lauched and released at 500 feet. The longest glide we achived was 50 minutes since then we have progressed to to a more powerful tug, the Titan II and are now using 1/4 scale gliders.

Tug Pilot tips.

As towing uses all the patch please use courtesy when towing and make sure you don’t hog the patch for hours on end. Take the slack up on the line and check the glider pilot is ready to proceed. The glider pilot controls the tow calling out as his eyes are following the flag on the tow line at the front of the glider looking ofr slack in the line. The tow pilot should establish a very gentle turn as soon as things are up and going well at about 75 feet. With the glider pilot calling climb or level to ensure the line is always tight. SET YOUR TRIMS NOW.

Once you get to higher altitudes it will be difficult to do this. If the tow isn’t quite right relese and try again, better then crashing. Make sure your aileron and rudder are not coupled on the sailplane. Do not fly higher than you can see. The glider pilot controls the relese keeping the tow line with the tug unles something goes wrong then the tug can relese the line. comunication is VITAL in towing between both pilots…

I have been caught out in the early days, when both tug and glider have released the line it took over 2 hours to find…. A shallow tow is better then a steep one. The concept that seems the least understood in towing is that the speed of the tow is determined by the angle of attack of the tow plane, NOT the throttle setting. Use full throttle, and if you are flying too fast for the sailplane just climb more steeply and convert speed into altitude. If you start playing with the throttle during a tow you will often create slack in the line.

There are no hard and fast rules governing what tugs will pull what gliders. Suffice to say, more power, more size and more stability are good attributes for a tug.

Glider Pilot tips

Sailplanes appropriate for towing:- The best range of sailplanes for aerotowing would be 3 meter and up aileron controlled ships. The larger they get, the greater benefit they achieve, in practical terms, from a tow versus an alternate launch method. Make sure you have discussed the tow with the tug pilot and the calls that will be used on the tow. Ensure the release works EVERY time, better when you’re on the ground than in the air…

Towing point for the glider should always be in the nose using a suitable release method… Experinced glider pilots test fly thier sailplanes from the tow, I personnaly slope mine before hand to check out its control response. Come up to our site in the summer months and see us towing our gliders, or bring your own along for a tow…