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Normal Into-the-Wind Ground Launch

 

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 glider.

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 profile.

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 too
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.

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