Introduction to Glider Flying > Launch and Recovery Procedures and Flight Maneuvers > Normal Into-the-Wind Ground Launch
Normal takeoffs are made into the wind. Prior
to launch, the glider pilot, ground crew, and launch equip-ment
operator must be familiar with the launch signals and procedures.
When the required checklists for the glider and ground launch
equipment have been com-pleted and the glider pilot, ground
crew, and launch equipment operator are ready for takeoff, the
glider pilot should signal the ground crewmember to hook the
towline to the glider. The hook-up must be done delib-erately
and correctly. The release mechanism should be checked for proper
operation. To accomplish this, the ground crewmember should
apply tension to the towrope and signal the glider pilot to
activate the release. The ground crewmember should verify that
the release has worked properly and signal the glider pilot.
When the towline is hooked up to the glider again, the ground
crewmember takes a position at the wingtip of the down wing.
When the glider pilot signals “ready for takeoff,”
the ground crewmember clears both the takeoff and landing area.
When the ground crewmem-ber has assured the traffic pattern
is clear, the ground crewmember then signals the launch equipment
opera-tor to “take up slack” in the towline. Once
the slack is out of the towline, the ground crewmember again
veri-fies that the glider pilot is ready for takeoff. Then ground
crewmember raises the wings to a level posi-tion, does a final
traffic pattern check, and signals to the launch equipment operator
to begin the takeoff.
NOTE: The glider pilot should
be prepared for a takeoff anytime the towline is attached to
The length, elasticity, and mass of the towline
used for ground launching has several effects on the glider
being launched. First, it is difficult or impossible to pre-vent
the glider from moving forward as the long tow-line is tautened.
Elasticity in the towline causes the glider to creep forward
as the towline is tightened. For this reason, the towline is
left with a small amount of slack prior to beginning the launch.
It is important for the pilot to be prepared for the launch
prior to giving the launch signal. If the launch is begun before
the pilot gives the launch signal, the glider pilot should pull
the towline release handle promptly. In the first several seconds
of the launch, the glider pilot should hold the stick forward
to avoid kiting.
During the launch, the glider pilot tracks
down the run-way centerline and monitors the airspeed. (Figure
7-18, item 1)
Figure 7-18. Ground launch takeoff
When the glider accelerates and attains liftoffspeed
the glider pilot eases the glider off the ground. The time interval
from standing start to liftoff may be as short as three to five
seconds. After the initial liftoff, the pilot should smoothly
raise the nose to the proper pitch attitude, watching for an
increase in airpseed. If the nose is raised too soon, or too
steeply, the pitch attitude will be excessive while the glider
is still at low altitude. If the towline breaks or the launching
mechanism loses power, recovery from such a high pitch attitude
may be difficult or impossible. Conversely, if the nose is raised
slowly, the glider may gain excessive airspeed, and may exceed
the maximum ground launch tow speed. The shallow climb may result
in the glider not attaining planned release altitude. If this
situation occurs, the pilot should pull the release, and land
straight ahead, avoiding obstacles and equipment.
As the launch progresses, the pilot should
ease the nose up gradually (item 2), while monitoring the airspeed
to ensure that it is adequate for launch but does not exceed
the maximum permitted ground launch tow air-speed. When optimum
pitch attitude for climb is attained (item 3), the glider should
be approximately 200 feet above ground level. The pilot must
monitor the airspeed during this phase of the climb-out to ensure
the airspeed is adequate to provide a safe mar-gin
above stall speed but below the maximum ground launch airspeed.
If the towline breaks or if the launch-ing mechanism loses power
at or above this altitude, the pilot will have sufficient altitude
to release the tow-line and lower the nose from the climb attitude
to the approach attitude that provides an appropriate airspeed
for landing straight ahead.
As the glider nears its maximum altitude (item
4), it begins to level off above the launch winch or tow vehi-cle,
and the rate of climb decreases. In this final phase of the
ground launch, the towline is pulling steeply down on the glider.
The pilot should gently lower thenose of the glider to reduce
tension on the towline, and then pull the towline release two
or three times to ensure the towline has released. The pilot
will feel the release of the towline as it departs the glider.
The pilot should enter a turn to visually confirm the fall of
the towline. If only a portion of the towline is seen falling
to the ground, it is possible that the towline is broken and
a portion of the towline is still attached to the glider.
If pulling the tow release handle fails to
release the towline, the back-release mechanism of the towhook
automatically releases the towline as the glider over-takes
and passes the launch vehicle or winch.