Winch Launch Failure – Ground Run

The point of this lesson is to highlight that a launch can fail before you leave the ground. You must still deal with the failure to launch.

A launch failure can happen before you leave the ground – you must complete the flight

Learning Points

A winch launch can fail almost before it starts.The glider may roll over the cable, causing it to back release. Or you might sneeze and pull the release. You may release intentionally if you’ve seen something untoward, and the instructor might just do it. It doesn’t really matter – your flight has started, and you must complete it safely.

Immediate Actions

All that needs to be done is to keep the wings level as speed decays. If you are approaching a downward slope, apply the brake (or stick forward if the glider has a nose skid).

Scenario and Demonstration

This demonstration takes place with a ten knot headwind, at a relatively small airfield.

Some flights don’t leave the ground, but must still be completed safely

The video is best viewed in YouTube in Full Screen mode, to easily see the on-screen messages during the demonstration. Use view, pause and rewind as needed to grasp the content and timing of the messages displayed, then focus on the action.

Performing the Exercise

The exercise is set up so that when you Try Lesson, the launch failure can occur at any point. You may therefore want to read all these winch launch failure lessons before trying them. The process is the same every time – you just have to get into the appropriate recovery attitude, wait, achieve the recovery speed, and make and execute a plan. Simples!

Condor shows the pilot pulling the cable release in the demonstrations, whereas in fact that was the point where the winch had failed (cable break). Your first action in any winch failure is to get into the appropriate recovery attitude, and only then deal with the cable release.

Condor is generous towards gliders in ground effect – they will float for miles. Seek instruction on whether you should use airbrakes in the eventuality of a very low level break. Condor requires it, but in the real world, airbrakes must be used with enormous caution at low level.

Further Reading and References

Gliding From Passenger to Pilot, 2nd Edition: Page 102-105

BGA Instructors’ Manual, 4th Edition: Section 4, Chapter 16, Page 7-9

BGA Instructors’ Reference Cards: Ex 11c

BGA Gliding Basics – Winch Launch

BGA Safe Winch Launching