What is Aerotowing?

To perform aerotowing, a powered aircraft has to be attached to a glider using a tow rope. Motor gliders or a single-engine light aircraft are typically used in this exhibition. After being connected to each other, the tow plane then takes the glider up to the sky and in a preferred height and location that is requested by the pilot, and this is where the glider pilot will release the tow-rope. To avoid any sudden loads and make sure that the glider or the tow plane’s airframe is not damaged, a weak link is often fitted to the rope. When the weak link is put under extreme loads, it will fail before any part of the plane or glider fails. However, there is a slight chance that the weak link can break even at a low altitude. That is why pilots always have a plan for this happening before they launch.

In aerotowing, the glider pilot has to make sure that he keeps the glider behind the tow-plane either in a high tow position, which is above the wake, and in a low tow position, which is just below the wake from the tow-plane. There is one rare aerotow exhibition where a tow-plane is attached to two gliders using a long rope for the low tow and a short rope in the high-towed glider.

  • Every pilot should know that they must take responsibility for the safety of their own airplane. Along with this, the glider guider also should make sure that the retracting wheel and aerotow release, and the retracting wheel is all in good condition and operates faultlessly. The release must be turned on and used with a separate switched channel, and it should be positioned in a manner where a pilot can comfortably place his forefinger throughout the tow phase. If there’s a need to release at once, covering the switch in this manner will make sure that the pilot can have an instant detachment. Indeed, looking around, find said a button during the critical seconds of an emergency scenario can lead to the loss of the glider and maybe even the tug.
  • Choosing the correct pilot and tug is one of the most crucial decisions for a glider pilot. In order to be safe, one must always make sure that the pilot should remember to hook up to an over-powered tug, more specifically if the pilot is new to aerotowing and a little bit nervous about the flight. Remember, there’s always safety in power, just as long as the tug pilot knows how to operate it wisely.
  • Thinking about the landing protocol is one of the most important things one should remember before aerotowing. You must take a good look at the land all across the airfield. After this, remember to make a mental note of every possible hazard that you may see and think of the things that may unfold when you get down after a ‘no return’ height and when you’re forced to do a landing. Along with all of these, make sure that you plan your landing approach considering the wind directions and turbulence distractions such as telephone wires, trees, and electricity cables.
  • When you’re flying high, it’s relatively easy to get disoriented. Especially if you’re riding gliders and smaller sailplanes, that is why if you realize that you’ve lost visual contact with your model, do not panic. All you have to do is deploy the airbrakes, wheel, and the crow braking if you have any. After that, you will have to take your model into a spin, so it will stop from flying out of sight. When you know that you have retained reliable ‘visual,’ you will have to fly out of the spin using all the drag aids that are still hanging, this way, you will not go and over speed the airframe.
  • Unlike slope soaring, aerotowing is considered to be one of the most social activities. In fact, even the children seem quite interested when they see and hear lots of tugs taking off as well as glass ships rocketing around and howling. Aerotowing is a bit challenging. However, it can be a fully rewarding activity, and it has the potential to be a significant family interaction.