article 2c. revision date 15.02.07

Glider Winch Launch Method

An efficient method of launching a glider to a suitable height above ground level is by 'Winch Launch'. Less costly than that of it's 'Aerotow' alternative this method of launching a glider is accomplished by attaching a strong cable between the glider and a powerful high speed winch.

On confirmation of 'clear to take off', the winch is deployed and the glider is dragged along the ground into wind for a short distance until reaching a suitable take off airspeed. A steep and fast climb is then initiated by the pilot.

At the designated height and before overhead the winch mechanism the glider pilot releases the cable to conduct a powerless flight taking advantage of, lift providing thermal conditions, eventually descending back to the launch airfield for landing.

The rate of climb for this type of launch is exhilarating and as memorable an experience as the sensation of the powerless flight that follows.

  • Advantages
    • The thrill of the climb out is considered by many to be a definite advantage over aerotow launches.
    • Winch launches are generally much cheaper per flight than being towed by a light aircraft.
  • Disadvantages
    • The maximum height before separation is less than that which can be achieved by towing, therefore, the time in powerless flight is generally shorter.