IMPORTANT – Please Read This and Watch This Video

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    • #12405
      John DeRosaJohn DeRosa

        For a while now I have been watching the videos on YouTube on the “Pure Glide” channel which are posted by an instructor from New Zealand.  Many of the videos are instructional speaking to important topics including how to avoid accidents. 

        This video is about tow plane (AKA “tug”) upsets where a glider on tow can cause the tow plane’s tail to be pulled vertically with disastrous results.  The event was captured on camera and is included in this video. 

        The instructor mentions many things that you should do, or NOT do, during a tow…

        • Keep a “sterile” cockpit during tow – don’t chit-chat with your co-pilot unless necessary
        • Don’t get distracted (i.e. open/close the window)
        • Don’t play with the radio or cameras
        • Keep trim forward
        • Keep your hand near to the release
        • Think before the tow about performing an emergency release as part of your take off checklist.
        • Release immediately if you loose sight of the tow plane or are out of position or “things get out of control”
        • Release immediately if you get distracted (i.e. canopy opens)
        • Release immediately if you drag a wingtip

        On that last point if you drag a wingtip > RELEASE IMMEDIATELY.  Why?  Because dragging a wingtip can cause the glider to rapidly yaw towards the dragging wing, dig that wing into the ground and (especially so with a CG hook) cause the glider to nearly instantly pivot on the wingtip upwards, then back downwards, and the cockpit crashing into the ground.  We had this exactly thing happen years ago at Sky Soaring which severely injured the pilot and destroyed the glider.  I release immediately when a wing drops and have had to do so several times. 

        Students – Dragging a wingtip is an especially important topic to me because I have too often seen wing tips being dragged at Sky Soaring in our 2-33’s.  Fortunately (or unfortunately) the 2-33’s wing tip wheels, high (versus low) wing profile, coupled with its nose hook, can get you out trouble by pulling the glider back straight behind the tow plane and by not allowing the wing tip to dig into the ground in the first place.  But at some point in the future you will be in a glider with a CG hook where this is not be the case so PLEASE learn the right thing to do in the first place. 

        Don’t be embarrassed, JUST RELEASE!  We can easily pull you back to the staging area.  We cannot easily pull you out of the wreckage!

        PLEASE WATCH THIS VIDEO and please take these thoughts to heart.


        John “Wingtip” DeRosa

        President, Sky Soaring Glider Club

      • #12406
        Mark MallamoMark Mallamo

          Great points.

          For clarification, an unassisted launch (one with no wing runner) by definition requires a brief dragging of a wing tip. It is perfectly safe and described in detail in the FAA glider flying handbook. And yes, there may be exceptions for certain gliders where you wouldn’t want to.


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