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Glider Towing


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A friend of mine has recently aquired his glider pilots certificate and has been doing a bit of towing behind an Evektor Sportstar.;) (Apparently it works ok as a combination.)


I was asked when I was going to get my glider towing endorsment. :;)2:


I've never considered glider towing but dont have a problem with it so I suppose the questions are....


1. Is there an endorsement for glider towing?


2. Does it fit in the RAA category or do I need to use my PPL?


3. Any idea who would do it?


I've never flown a Sportstar but imagine it would be similar to the Flysynthesis Texan which I do have time in.


All comments welcome.


thanks guys :)







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ROM can answer your questions and more, as he has been a tug operator for many years. If he has his "ears" on I'm sure he will answer. If he doesn't he'll be too busy with preparations for Horsham glider week which is nearly upon us.



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Guest TOSGcentral

Hi Flyer,


I am a bit out of touch but the following should get you going:


Yes there is most certainly a tugging endorsement. This is a GFA endorsement so the best thing is to get in touch with the Gliding Federation of Australia main office in Melbourne (Essendon still I think) and they will give you the drum.


Most of the large gliding schools have a tug master heading up a tug pilot panel and they organise the training and endorsement. This is "on the job" training so does not cost once you are cleared on the tug type in use. On the other hand you will almost certainly have to be a member of the gliding club.


In my day it was all strictly PPL but that has changed. I do know GFA are now using some motor gliders as tugs but you would need a solid session of glider training before they let you lose in one of those.


I assume using your RAA rating would work if the tug was an RAA registered aircraft - but I personally do not know of any RAA types cleared for tugging - which does not mean that there are none.







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The Gliding Federation [ GFA ] does not yet have a RAA tug pilot endorsement but is currently negotiating with CASA and the RAA to bring such an endorsement into effect.


Currently you must have a PPL with a glider towing endorsement from CASA.


The glider towing endorsement is generally issued after you have done a towing course with a GFA and CASA towing rated instructor.


There are certain legal quirks here to do with the way that the legislation is set up which I won't go into which is taking time to get over the hurdles for RAA glider towing rated pilots.


For our part, we would not let a tug pilot anywhere near our RAA Jabiru tug [ which is causing us some grief at the moment which we believe will shortly be sorted out ] until he / she had quite a lot of experience in both gliders and in RAA aircraft.


The low powered, low MTOW and therefore low inertia tugs of the RAA classification need somewhat more care to tow with than the heavier, high powered Pawnee type tugs.


The advantages for a small mixed operation club is the versatility of the RAA aircraft, the low operational cost and the low maintenance cost.


Pawnees are reaching the ends of their lives both in engines and in airframes and are getting more costly every year as any aerotowing gliding club will tell you.


The new proposed 750kg MTOW class of aircraft, running one of the new V6 Rotax's or the rumoured 160 HP Jabiru diesel will be really ideal tugs for gliding clubs and will probably replace the Pawnees quite rapidly if and when this 750 kg class beccomes a reality.



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Guest RogerRammedJet

Been a loooooong time, but I used to tow gliders on my PPL. Was required by the guy doing the towing endorsement to train to solo in a glider (took all of 55 min training). Then did dual tows in an Auster J5B until signed off. Have a letter in my logbook authorising me for glider towing.


I have towed with the Auster J1B and J5B, Pawnee 150 and 235, and Supercub. IMHO towing with less performance than the Pawnee 235 or Supercub is dicing with death. I was involved in an incident that would have resulted in a serious prang had it not been for the performance available from the Pawnee 235. Only serious outcome was a bunch of stained undies - mine, the gliding instructor's and student's.





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Guest TOSGcentral

Yup - good fun is it not Rog.


At Lasham we were told that we were getting two new Suoer Cubs to replace the Austers. Great! The hell it was! They were ex French air force special orders with no flaps, a 90 hp donk but you still flew them from the front seat.


Things had been getting fraugther than they ought for a while but the crunch came when one day I towed a Bocian D (two up in the glider) in thermic conditions. We all sank gracefully (and cursing luridly) into what was not much of a valley anyway and I spent ten minutes below airfield height finding a thermal to get the combination back up again.


I released the Boc on short final so he could get in and that was the end of that! We kept the Austers and relegated the 90 hp jobs to light single seater towing only - where they went quite well.


With the big glass sleds full of water that are about nowadays it makes me twitch to think of one of them behind an ultralight tug!





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I'm getting the distinct feeling that being a glider tug pilot is NOT a great occupation.:;)1:


I take it that you wouldn't be using a 100hp rotax powered sportstar to pull a glider aloft?:confused:


Thanks for your replies sofar guys....I'm learning at a great rate of knots;)







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I had better clarify one point from my post above.


Under the current legislation, once you have your glider towing endorsement, you can then tow gliders with any aircraft that is approved for glider towing and that you are endorsed to fly.


So a towing endorsement with a PPL can be used in RAA aircraft with out any further need for any extra training, subject to the gliding club rules of course.


This will change under the new rules being negotiated by the GFA, CASA and the RAA.


Towing is actually good fun and really teaches you about take offs, landing, lookout, airmanship and head up instead of in the cockpit.


Towing with low powered tugs like Tigers, Austers, Chipmunks and etc also keeps life interesting as I can attest.


The Chippy was the best with slow rolls, hesitation rolls, inverted circuits, barrel rolls and etc, all at below the glider release height of 2000 feet and while on descent.


No, I am not writing this from the grave although the Tiger nearly caught me undone once or twice.


Best tow height I ever did was in a Tiger with a single seat Boomerang glider on the back.


We were still on tow at 14,000 feet in weak lee wave conditions.


I just froze and waved him off when I scraped a thin sheet of ice from across one of the dials.



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