Winch Launch Failure – Turn and Land

Too high to land ahead, so we wait for speed to build, then make an abbreviated circuit to land.

Too high to land ahead after this launch failure

Learning Points

This lesson shows the glider well into the climb, just over half way up a full climb at this airfield. 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 are unlikely to fit into the airfield ahead of us. We are launching into a ten knot headwind. If it were a 30kt headwind, we might make it. But we’re not, so we will turn in the pre-selected direction, per our Eventualities decision.

Plan a safe approach and landing

We are at ‘High Key’ height, but are displaced from it, so will make a smaller circuit. We are going to land, possibly on the cross runway, or we’ll make a small circuit of 360 degrees to land on the same runway we launched from. We will turn first, assess our height loss and distance from the field when we have it in sight – then make a decision about where 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

I’m sure the pilot did just that.

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