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Launching Facilities

Our launching facilities are modern and reliable and consist of two winches and two tugs.

skylaunch s

Our Skylaunch winch

libelle s

A single seat Libelle on a winch launch. Note the winch cable connected to the underside

The Winch     

Our Skylaunch winch is our main launching asset. It has a 8.2 litre V8 engine which drives two drums containing about 1.5km of cable on each.

With the winch parked at the up-wind end of the airfield, one of our tractors is used to tow the two cables to the launch point at the opposite end of the runway. Once a glider is ready to launch it is attached to the end of one of the cables, the winch driver opens the throttle and the glider accelerates to over 60mph in around 3 seconds! With enough airflow over the wings, the glider takes off and the pilot rotates it into a 45 degree climb until it reaches a point overhead the winch at noramlly around 1000-1500ft. At this stage the glider pilot releases the cable to continue his or her flight. Meanwhile the cable is then fully wound in to the winch and the next launch, using the other drum of the two, is started.

The majority of our flying is carried out using the winch as it provides a safe, cheap and quick method to get airborne. During the middle of summer we can carry out over 100 winch launches in a day! We have a second 'Supacat' winch which is used when our Skylaunch is undergoing maintenance.


The Tugs

There are several types of tug available in the gliding world, we have two, a Super Cub & a Pawnee.

An aerotow launch commences with the glider hooked on to a 50 metre rope which is attached to the tugs tail. Through a system of signals the tug pilot slowly takes up the slack in the rope and then when this is tight, then applies full power. The glider becomes airborne behind the tug and then the combination climbs away. The main advantage to aerotow launching over winch launching is the fact that the glider pilot can release at any height, and if organised with the tug pilot in advance, any place. The winch of course only can give a launch between 1000 and 1500 ft over the end of the runway.

All tug pilots have to be in posession of a P.P.L. which means that ordinary members cannot be tug pilots until they have this power flying licence.

 cub s

Our Piper Super Cub tug aircraft

pawnee small

Our Piper PA35 Pawnee tug aircraft

 launchbus sThe Launch control bus  

Launch Control

Our launch control bus is driven out each morning to the end of which ever runway the gliders will be launched from. It is used for log keeping, launch control (signaling the winch when the glider is ready) and has facilities for flight briefing pilots and visitors. 

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