Winch Launch Failure – Land Ahead, Just

A little bit higher and a little bit faster… This lesson shows you can land ahead, but there is a limit.

Time to make a decision – Land ahead if you can

Learning Points

This lesson shows the glider well established in the climb before suffering a cable break. In this case the land ahead option has almost disappeared (without going into the overshoot area). On a larger airfield, we could land ahead from a much higher failure – but not here. Following the BGA guidelines:

Immediate Actions

The actions are the same as always. Assuming you have completed the previous lesson, let’s focus on the differences here:

Recover to the appropriate recovery attitude, while checking the airspeed.

The immediate action is to reach an appropriate recovery attitude. This we do.

Wait to regain the approach speed

We Waited, Waited, Waited.

Assess the situation

This situation doesn’t look much different to the previous one, but is slightly higher when the failure occurred, and we are faster as we recover. That makes the land ahead a little tighter. The demonstration illustrates that we have very limited time in which to make the decision.

Plan a safe approach and landing

We are going to land ahead, but we must descend steeply. When speed has built sufficiently, we will deploy full airbrakes to descend as steeply as possible, and then treat it like any other landing.

Release the wire

Now you have a plan, release the wire, with two pulls.

Check the airspeed again

Execute the plan, and monitor airspeed.

Continue to monitor it

Airspeed is important after all.

Fly the approach and landing or a circuit variation to it

The full airbrake approach does the job and we stop within the airfield.

Scenario and Demonstration

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

It is just possible to land ahead, so we do

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