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Towing gliders to altitude, risky?

Old 06-16-2008, 10:50 PM
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AstroDad
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Default Towing gliders to altitude, risky?

For the last couple days my buddy and I had such a great time thermaling with our trainer glow-planes that we decided to get a Great Planes Fling Sailplane 2M.

My trainer glow-plane is well over powered so I was wondering if I could safely use it to tow the glider to altitude, or if this is a risky high skill procedure?
Old 06-16-2008, 11:23 PM
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kwmtrubrit
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Default RE: Towing gliders to altitude, risky?

There will certainly be those to give you more info than I, but my understanding is that it is fairly hard to tow a polyhedral sailplane. I saw a video of a Riser 100 poly being towed, and from the moment it left the ground it was weaving from left to right fairly violently. Maybe that was a once in a while occurance, I really don't know.
Old 06-17-2008, 04:14 AM
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Tinkrerpilot
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Default RE: Towing gliders to altitude, risky?

You would be better off using a cradle on top of you trainer to take it to altitude. Do a search here for tug cradle or glider tow cradle or even piggyback glider lsaunch. There is lots of information to view.

http://www.rcuniverse.com/forum/m_40...tm.htm#4089861


http://www.rcuniverse.com/forum/m_35...tm.htm#3566417

http://www.rcuniverse.com/forum/m_54...tm.htm#5463018

http://www.rcuniverse.com/forum/m_46...tm.htm#4651358

http://www.rcuniverse.com/forum/m_45...tm.htm#4525683

http://www.rcuniverse.com/forum/m_33...tm.htm#3397117

http://www.poboys.org/framepage.asp?...ps/glider0.htm



just a short list, with some great ideas, sorry if I missed any one. This was just a quick search through the threads.
Gives some ideas.
Old 06-17-2008, 06:32 AM
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da Rock
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Default RE: Towing gliders to altitude, risky?

Towing requires both pilots to learn the skill. It also places the tow plane's safety in the hands of the glider pilot. Until even a skilled glider pilot learns what not to do when being towed, the tow plane is at risk. Even after the glider pilot gets a bit of practice, the tow plane can still be killed by the glider. Having experienced towing, I will suggest that tow plane owners and flyers are idiots. OK, maybe they're just extremely nice guys.... It's pretty hard to turn down a flyer who isn't very good at flying a glider who suddenly shows up wanting a tow.

Towing requires modification to the glider in most cases. You really want the glider to be able to drop the tow. So you'll wind up having to modify any glider you want to tow.

Risky? Depends on who you're going to tow as to how risky. But yeah, it's risky. So if you're thinking about it, get a buddy to provide the tow plane.

The cradle technique can carry any glider aloft that shows up for a lift. You'd be surprised how many people will not want to retrofit a glider so it can be towed. The cradle is dead simple for most glider pilots compared to being towed. And the glider pilot would have to be an ass or an idiot to cause the towplane pilot problems. Better to be cradling that kind of pilot than towing him. He gets your towplane in trouble and you punch him out.

My advice? No contest. Forget the towplane deal unless you have a scale glider you want to tow up with a scale towplane. And there are at least two somewhat experienced flyers involved. The learning curve can be rainbow shaped and you could find yourself walking to where the pot of gold would be with a trash bag in your hands.
Old 06-17-2008, 07:23 AM
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AstroDad
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Default RE: Towing gliders to altitude, risky?

thanks for the cradle idea, that looks a lot safer than towing.
Old 06-17-2008, 07:25 AM
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seanpcola
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Default RE: Towing gliders to altitude, risky?

Actually, it's not that risky and in some ways much easier on the sailplane than winching. To qualify what I am saying about it not being risky:

It does require a certain amount of experience and knowledge.

Polyhedrial sailplanes can be towed though not ideal. Ailerons give you the roll control without yaw input. While being towed roll and pitch will be what you need to concentrate on. A properly placed tow release will "basically" keep the glider in line behind the tow plane. The sailplane pilots main job will be to keep wings level and in position vertically behind the tug, ideally slightly above the tug and to maintain clearance i.e. keeping the line tight and distance to the tug. Poly planes will do as mentioned in kwmtrubrit's post (howdy K!!). Usually that is caused by too much speed. Nice and slow is the key on the 2 channel stuff.

Both models (tug and glider) have to have a means of release. If one pilot gets into trouble, then the other has the option of aborting the tow. Ideally it should be the glider but various things (malfunction, sailplane pilot freezing up at a critical moment, etc.) can and do happen. The releasse on the glider should be located fairly close to the front. On the tug, the release should be at wing trailing edge, top of fuse, NOT in the tail as in full scale.

da Rock makes a couple of good points. A cradle is an option. Anyone wanting to get into aerotowing would be best served by having some experienced help and watching people do it before trying it alone. However, got to take issue with us aerotow guys being called idiots. I will assume you said that in jest. We tow a lot and frankly do less damage to our stuff than when you get a bunch of guys together standing hard on the pedal winch launching.

I have seen (and been one) a ton of guys experience their first aerotow as the glider guider and universally after landing the statement was that it was much easier than they expected. Almost a letdown after all of the nervous anticipation. Having said that, again, you really would be better off to come to an aerotow meet, watch, ask questions and if you have a plane ready for tow, get an experienced flyer to stay with you through the first few tows to point out stuff, teach some tricks and help you if things do go wrong.

Don't know where you live in PA but we will be towing at Triple Tree (Woodruff, SC) in September. Do a search under Joe Nall for exact date and driving directions. Come out and we will get ya' started!

Oh yeah, Rock you can come too!
Old 06-17-2008, 08:06 AM
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da Rock
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Default RE: Towing gliders to altitude, risky?

Idiots? did I call somebody an idiot? I am SUCH an idiot, such an idiot !!

Yeah, it was a jest. Just reread it and it was not well phrased.

Truth is, the risk for towing is a function of both pilot's skill and ability, and the trim of the two planes, and the conditions on the day you're towing. Beyond that, what's to worry.

I was introduced to it when a bunch of us decided it looked like fun. None of us had done it. And I can truthfully say, that if you were looking for a funloving bunch of idiots, when you found us, you'd found fun AND a bunch of idiots. Darned if we didn't succeed however. At a cost. And last I heard, the few idiots from that bunch that're still around up there (I moved away some years ago.) bring only gliders out to the thermal site nowadays.

It's not for the faint of heart. And does take some talent (not too much, but some) and skill (which can be learned, but you ain't born with it). And it is FUN.

FWIW, we used to call whomever showed up with a towplane, "the idiot of the day". Because not only had he brought a towplane but he was going to get lots less tows than anybody else. And when he did get a tow, he often was focused more on teaching the tow pilot than on getting a tow. And when he got that tow, HIS towplane was in the hands of a glider pilot who was not always an accomplished or caring power pilot.

But you do need to get in closer touch with your idiot side when doing it. Makes it more fun and less worry.
Old 06-17-2008, 12:19 PM
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Tall Paul
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Default RE: Towing gliders to altitude, risky?

On a modified Kadet (as if I had one that isn't!)..
The wings on the glider must be supported against.. (no offense) .. rocking!.
This can seriously degrade the flight of the coupled pair if the glider tilts on the mount.
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Old 06-17-2008, 12:57 PM
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Default RE: Towing gliders to altitude, risky?

Rock,

Yeah, I figured your were joking.

Your last post explains thoroughly why I keep all my power stuff at home and sans tow release. All of my soaring buddies that decided to learn towing now get stuck with that chore, seldom getting to fly their sailplanes. It's great to be blissfully lacking in towing skills.
Old 06-17-2008, 04:15 PM
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SoarLA45
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Default RE: Towing gliders to altitude, risky?

Towing is not easy if you have a plane that does not have wheels. I would recommend the cradle method.
Old 06-17-2008, 04:59 PM
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Tall Paul
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Default RE: Towing gliders to altitude, risky?

The glider in tow can seriously upset the tow plane. It takes some practice to get it right.
Old 06-18-2008, 04:29 PM
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iflytailies
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Default RE: Towing gliders to altitude, risky?

My flying buddy built his own cradle for his TM. We have towed his Easyglider and my 100" DG-1000 so far with success. It is a simple release system where a servo detaches the rubber bands holding the glider down on one end...
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Old 06-18-2008, 07:45 PM
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Steve Boone
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Default RE: Towing gliders to altitude, risky?

Towing is fun. We tow my Spirit up quite often. That being said, ailerons would be a huge +. It's a bit of a jerky ride without them sometimes. Like all things in this hobby it's addictive. I now have a 4M discus set up for aero-tow. My buddy had a cub given to him that we installed a 1.8 Moki into for a tow plane. We will be towing the 4M off a dolly even though it has wheels just to keep the wings level until we're up to flying speed. As soon as the weather co-operates we'll be trying this combo out. The 4M has ailerons so I'm expecting a much smoother tow. I think the cradle a much better deal when you don't have ailerons. We like the added excitment of a crazy tow. We've never lost a tow or sailplane BTW. (I hope I didn't just jinx myself [] )
Old 06-18-2008, 08:28 PM
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Default RE: Towing gliders to altitude, risky?

Glider Aerotow

John

http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...06427302&hl=en
Old 06-18-2008, 09:25 PM
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Default RE: Towing gliders to altitude, risky?

ORIGINAL: AstroDad

For the last couple days my buddy and I had such a great time thermaling with our trainer glow-planes that we decided to get a Great Planes Fling Sailplane 2M.

My trainer glow-plane is well over powered so I was wondering if I could safely use it to tow the glider to altitude, or if this is a risky high skill procedure?
You will have no problem towing your Fling as long as your tow plane has plenty of power. If you choose to do aerotow, use a tow line with about 70-80ft length. Then add a bridal to each end. Finally, add a thinner tow line of about 10ft length to the tow plane side and another to the glider end. These thinner=weaker lines serve as a breaking point. Have the tow plane do the work, meaning the glider pilot should only use a little bit of rudder to make slight corrections when necessary. Let the tow plane tow the glider whereever it should go. Make sure you keep the glider wings level. Here is how we do it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HH0eX_49lPI

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