Sun, 22 Jul 2012

1Sting 3:168 : Plumpton Aerotow (A) Duration: 00:20, Gain: 1000 ft, Distance: 0 km, Awful tow; very hard to control glider. Fault with tug found after I landed after early release. Flight maintained in thermal for a short time.
2Sting 3:168 : Plumpton Aerotow (A) Duration: 00:15, Gain: 2300 ft, Distance: 0 km, SSE-SSW; blue - smooth tow & final glide back to launch.

Back to Aerotow

Arriving bright and early, I was keen to help set-up the airfield. Arriving at the top field, the grass was well over a foot long and an attempt to mow only flattened it down. I personally didn't fancy being towed head first through this at 20 mph so wasn't keen to fly with the field in this state. Fortunately, the next field to the north was short and after a short conversation with the farmer, we set-up there.

This field is directly next to the South Downs Way and it wasn't long before our activities drew the attention of those passing by. John McB, wasn't flying after recently crashing his glider but kindly volunteered to operate the bats throughout the day.

Aerotow at Plumpton
Aerotow at Plumpton
John B on his Tandem towing a passenger (Sophie) into the air.
22 Jul 2012

Eventually my turn came around and I reluctantly set-up. After instructing all out I was hauled forwards and upwards. The first 60 seconds of the flight felt good, but thereafter, I really started to struggle. I was unusually low behind the tug and was jostling about all over the place. I was just about to consider releasing when I saw the signal from the tug pilot to release - I guessed he was having a suitably difficult time towing me too, so I released and everything calmed down. I was at 997 feet, not the target 2,000 feet. I turned to the left and headed back to the field wondering why the tow felt so awful? Was it my glider? Did a thermal unsettle me? I had no idea, but didn't have too much time to contemplate it as I was heading downwards.

As I passed downwind of the landing field I managed to connect with a small snotty thermal. I managed to dice in and out of this for quite a while, working my way from 400 to 600 feet above take-off several times, moving back and forth along the South Downs Way and extending my flight for around 20 minutes. Eventually the lift diminished and I landed.

It was at that point I was told that the tug pilot said I was un-towable and that he wouldn't tow me again. Fair cop, I thought and was happy to call it a day there and then as I too found the whole experience a little un-pleasurable.

I then helped Ozzie into the air. As he ascended it looked like he too was struggling, even on a rigid wing! When Ozzie and the tug pilot were down they debated what was going on. It was evident that something wasn't right, the tug pilot was struggling for power and was flying close to stall and Ozzie was struggling to keep position behind. All this sounded a little similar to my flight, but Ozzie, with more experience than I handled it better.

Aerotow at Plumpton
Aerotow at Plumpton
The aerotow tug.
22 Jul 2012

It was at that point someone started looking at the tug and noticed that the air filter had become detached from the engine. This most likely resulted in the tug being a little underpowered and was probably a good explanation of what happened to me and Ozzie.

With this knowledge, the tug pilot re-considered towing me. A couple of hours later, I was back on the launch trolley being towed back into the air. This time I experienced some minor height oscillations and completed a successful tow to 2,300 feet. The air was silky smooth and I enjoyed a gentle glide back to earth. I was glad I had that second flight and after speaking with the tug pilot, discovered that my Sting is quite sensitive to the towing air speed. 40 mph appeared to be the optimum, slightly below that I sank, and slightly faster, I out climbed the tug!

Flight Details

Flight TypeAerotow Launch
GliderAirBorne Sting 3:168
SitePlumpton Aerotow
Launch Date/Time22 Jul 2012 / 12:00
Height Gain1000ft
Flight Duration0h 20m
CommentsAwful tow; very hard to control glider. Fault with tug found after I landed after early release. Flight maintained in thermal for a short time.

Flight TypeAerotow Launch
GliderAirBorne Sting 3:168
SitePlumpton Aerotow
Launch Date/Time22 Jul 2012 / 15:00
Height Gain2300ft
Flight Duration0h 15m
CommentsSSE-SSW; blue - smooth tow & final glide back to launch.

Flying Statistics to Date 22 Jul 2012

Total Hours :
53h 41m
Longest Flight :
1h 20m
Glider Models Flown :
4
Sites Flown :
20
Best Height Gain :
3,000 feet
Total Distance :
20.4 km
Max Distance :
13.4 km
Total Flights :
217
Hill Launches :
101
Winch Launches :
99
Aerotow Launches :
17

Total Flying Statistics

Total Hours :
96h 29m
Longest Flight :
2h 25m
Glider Models Flown :
5
Sites Flown :
21
Best Height Gain :
3,000 feet
Total Distance :
67.9 km
Max Distance :
13.5 km
Total Flights :
288
Hill Launches :
158
Winch Launches :
106
Aerotow Launches :
24
  E-mail: webmaster@morphfx.co.uk

All content copyright © 2005-2019 Dan Hamblin - All rights reserved.