The Schwiezer glider has arrived and anticipation mounted as everyone at KJSO wondered how the auto-tow method of launching a glider was going to work. I was hopeful it would work, but was just not sure. I’d done the research and felt good about it, but it needed to be proven by someone driving the truck and someone riding in the glider. I knew I was to be in the glider, but who would be with me?
As a professional flight instructor, I believe in quality instruction, and in the case of the glider, I needed some instruction. Carol Walker had done this before and could provide the sign-off needed. So, we made plans and Carol and Pete Walker came to KJSO to instruct and evaluate. We were not alone, though. Lots of people from Cherokee County came to help.
Here’s a video of the glider flight filmed by Clint Goff, photographer.
Clint drove the truck, Carol rode in the front seat, I rode in the back seat, Robert held the wing, Jake rode as the safety rider on the truck, and a whole plethora of people hung around the taxiway to watch the show. Something interesting was going to happen, and lots of people wanted to watch, whether is was a dismal failure or a huge success.
Clint accelerated briskly and we accelerated slowly at first, but then gained airspeed rapidly as altitude was gained. By 200′ AGL we had a 45 degree deck angle and were screaming up to altitude. As the truck approached the end of the runway we were at 900′ AGL and released the rope. We soared for just a minute or two knowing that the soaring was the easy part. We returned to land ended up exactly where we started by landing with a slight tailwind. It was a huge success!
We made more than 12 launches that day and I became very comfortable with the process. More importantly, we came up with ground procedures for handling the rope, driving the truck, and ensuring a safe operation.
A HUGE amount of appreciation goes to Pete and Carol Walker at Big Q Aviation. They did a SUPER job of helping me get prepared for this day. Every launch went splendidly and they are the reason this day was a safe day for everyone.
We are going to get really good at auto-launching gliders at Casey Aviation. Be sure to come join us soon!