Winch Launch Failure – Turn and Go

A failure close to the top of the launch… Too high to land ahead, so we turn. Shall we go?

Too high to land ahead after this launch failure at a respectable launch height

Learning Points

This lesson shows the glider has reached well over 1,200′, which may be considered a normal launch at some sites. When we reach the recovery speed we are still so high that we can’t even see the airfield beneath us. Do we count it as a successful launch, or a failed launch?

When we achieve the appropriate recovery attitude we must decide if we can land ahead. Clearly not, in this case. So, 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

Once we push over after the launch failure, we can see we will not fit into the airfield ahead of us – we can’t even see it. We are higher than our usual circuit height, well above High Key, and we can see likely sources of lift all around.

Plan a safe approach and landing

We could turn to enter a large circuit, and assess the situation as we position into a more normal circuit pattern. We will turn first, assess our height loss and distance from the field when we have it in sight – then make a decision about whether to land.

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

In this case the pilot assessed the situation and decided it was safe to fly away. Wheel up and go…

Scenario and Demonstration

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

Too high to land ahead and too slow to turn, wait, wait, wait.

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