Scope & Purpose

The scope and purpose of this course is to provide standardized tow pilot training producing safe and competent tow pilots.

Overview of Aerotow

A glider is pulled aloft by a tow plane using a tow line, normally 200-foot in length. At a predetermined altitude the glider will release. The glider will normally make a level right turn to clear the tow line. When assured that the glider has released, the tow pilot will clear for traffic and make a left turn. The tow plane will then descend as rapidly as engine cooling permits, land, and prepare for the next launch.

Preparation for Tow

When planning to give tows, both the tow pilot and glider pilot must exercise good judgment, sound decision making, and manage the risks found in every aspect of the flight. Using Single Pilot Resource Management techniques is an excellent method both pilots can use to help manage the workload during ground and flight operations.

In addition to a thorough tow plane preflight inspection in accordance with the pilot operating handbook (POH), several other details require attention.

Proper fuel planning is essential since the tow operation will normally be flown with a full or best power mixture setting, causing fuel consumption to be higher than in normal cruise flight. Aircraft performance considerations may require the tow plane to be operated with less than full fuel tanks. An appropriate procedure to determine the exact amount of onboard fuel is a must and familiarity with the fuel consumption of the specific airplane used for towing is essential. As required by FAR 91.151 (a)(1), the tow pilot must plan to complete each tow with a minimum of 30 minutes of fuel remaining.

The tow hook must be inspected for proper operation daily, prior to tow activity. There are two types of tow hooks used in the United States, a Tost (European type) or Schweizer (American type). The most common type of tow hook installed on American tow planes is the Schweizer tow release.