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Dec 23, 2006, 04:42 PM
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Winch/Retriever Launching Tips


For those who may be interested here are a few launch tips that I have picked up over the last couple of years of sailplane launching with a winch and retriever. Hopefully they might help some of our newer soaring enthusiests. I know a few folks here are just getting into sailplanes and winch launching. This is not intended to be a complete list and anyone else is welcome and encouraged to expand or add to it. Some of these were learned the hard way.

1. Always have a full charge on the receiver and transmitter batteries before a day of flying. Have a way to peak field charge your plane and transmitter batteries.

2. Make sure CG, control surfaces, and tow hook are in correct place before winch launch. If not sure, do a hand toss first. If in doubt ask an expert.

3. If it has been long time since last flight, or if first flight ever on this plane or radio, do a range check.

4. If using a programmable radio with multiple airplane programs make sure the Tx is on the right model before launch.

5. Use an experienced winch launcher when first launching with a winch. Work into using the winch slowly with help from an expert. Flying the plane and tapping the winch pedal with the correct tension at the same time requires some practice.

6. Only use a winch with dual solonoids and indicator lights for each to guard against a frozen solonoid and a "run away winch".

7. When setting out the winch turn around, it helps to mark the turn around spot with a orange flag especially if the grass is tall. This helps you to find it after flying is over and with winch alignment.

8. When setting up the winch make sure it is lined up straight with the turn around to prevent line build up on one side of the drum and a resulting snarl. Check alignment and line strength of the winch by tensioning the winch line against a fixed object before use.

9. When ready to launch from a winch with a retriever make sure you use the following check list:

a. you have a knowledgable winch operator & experienced retriever operator.

b. the tow ring & retriever bridle are outside the wicket (retriever line guide)before connecting to the sailplane.

c. the bail on the retriever (if so equipped) is in open position and line comes off the spool freely.

d. Tx and receiver are turned on (and correct plane selected). Tx antenna is fully extended. Wiggle the sticks to check all control surfaces.

e. the launch area and launch lane above are clear of people and other planes. Yell out "Launching" just prior to launch.

f. you build up some line tension before a vigerous toss of the sailplane. It must be flying as soon as it is released or may stall.

g. you have an escape plan if something goes awry. These would include line break, early pop off, retiever snarl, tow ring fails to separate at altitude, wierd plane attitude during launch etc.

f. after coming off tow, clear the winch area to make room for others to launch.

10. Only activate retriever when pilot yells "Off". It is the pilot's responsibility to initiate the reteive after he comes off tow.

11. Keep the retriever motor on steadily until the line reaches the ground, then you may pulse the retriever switch if needed to finish the retrieve. Failure to do so will result in slack and loops forming on the retriever spool and a backlash on the next launch.

12. If the line breaks during launch or retreive, STOP the winch or retriever immediately. Then find the break and use a good 100% strength jam knot (barrel knot or blood knot are examples) to repair the line.

13. Most people use braided nylon line for both winch and retriever. Winch line should be minimum 200lb.test and retriever line 75-100lb. No more than one and a half lenghts of line to the turn around should be on the retriever. More just causes problems.

I hope some of these tips are helpful to those who can benefit from them. Many seem elementary and obvious but I have seen more than one experienced pilot forget to do something simple resulting in disaster. Again the NASF club has some very knowledgable members most of whom read this forum and I encourage anyone to add to this list or expand on any item.

Merry Christmas and Happy Soaring to all.

John Mears
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Dec 23, 2006, 09:43 PM
cousin Dave
GLIDERGIDER's Avatar
John,
Merry Christmas to you too. That's a good list. Its amazing, I do all those things by instinct now. I hardly think of the process anymore. I just go do it. Its good that you took time to write them down, to spread the wealth of your experience.

If the weather is good on New Years Day, drive up as I will gather as many club members as I can for a group fly in. Sort of celibration of the new year. I also like to take a group picture on New Years to remember the day.
Dave
Dec 23, 2006, 09:59 PM
Fly long and land softly
Jim_Marconnet's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by GLIDERGIDER
John,
Merry Christmas to you too. That's a good list. Its amazing, I do all those things by instinct now. I hardly think of the process anymore. I just go do it. Its good that you took time to write them down, to spread the wealth of your experience.

If the weather is good on New Years Day, drive up as I will gather as many club members as I can for a group fly in. Sort of celibration of the new year. I also like to take a group picture on New Years to remember the day.
Dave
Definitely a great list! Thanks!

With regard to Item 1, I bought today at Advance Auto Parts an Endurance 300 amp jumpstart unit for $29.88, normally $39.88. It's 12 VDC, 10 Amp Hr. Weighs just 9 pounds. I plan to tote it out to where I rest my sailplane and Tx so I can charge them during the in-between-times. I would have theoretically liked a solar charger, but this is much less expensive, more dependable whether the sun is shining or not, and can be used for other things like jump-starting the car. It even has a USB charging port for running anything that you would plug into a USB port for power. And even a little light for lighting up the darkness.

About the New Years' Day flying.... Any idea yet when and where? And what time for the Photo Op? I'd hate to miss anyone because they left early or arrived late.
Last edited by Jim_Marconnet; Dec 23, 2006 at 10:08 PM.
Jan 05, 2007, 08:40 AM
Registered User
Thread OP
An example of things going wrong at launch with an experienced pilot:

Supplied by Marc Gellart

"I have done most all of what has been spoken of previously, I have never flown turned off at a contest, but at home, oh ya.

The best contest trick I ever saw pulled was a guy who had flown forever, but was a bit befuddled when he walked up to launch. Things just got worse for him, and when push came to shove, he threw his TX instead of the ship. The Vision went about ten feet, no spot landing points, and there was an uncomfortable silence.

That one takes the cake".

Marc
Jan 05, 2007, 08:57 AM
Back behind The Controls
Johnnie Paul's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by sleep4
An example of things going wrong at launch with an experienced pilot:

Supplied by Marc Gellart

"I have done most all of what has been spoken of previously, I have never flown turned off at a contest, but at home, oh ya.

The best contest trick I ever saw pulled was a guy who had flown forever, but was a bit befuddled when he walked up to launch. Things just got worse for him, and when push came to shove, he threw his TX instead of the ship. The Vision went about ten feet, no spot landing points, and there was an uncomfortable silence.

That one takes the cake".



Marc
I had to read this one twice to get it, thats just too funny.

Johnnie


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