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By Baitrunner
AeroTowing - or, how to aerotow?

I'm looking for advice from experienced aerotow HG pilots. I'm a new H2 (FL/CL) interested in AT. I have some scooter towing experience but realize that flying behind a tug is much different and more challenging. I've been trying to watch as many videos and read everything i can get my hands on about AT. Looking specifically at bar position at the start of the pull, and while flying (seems like you're pulled in a lot). Also, paying close attention to position behind the tug while flying straight and in turns. Any tips or advice you could offer to speed up my AT training when the time comes? I'll be AT training on a wing with permanently mounted landing gear below the control frame and on the keel so it's going to be very weird landing on wheels and not on my feet. Thanks in advance!

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By Lucky_Chevy
Learning to aerotow isn't too difficult if you already know how to fly. The key element is maintaining position behind the tug. To get your AT sign off you will have multiple flights with an instructor and then several solo flights, ideally with the wing you normally fly.

To prepare, practice flying and maneuvering at higher speeds than normal. Tugs generally fly around 35 miles per hour. If you can control your wing and pilot it accurately at higher speeds without PIO the AT training will go smoothly.

I thought it was fun. I had never done a tandem before and sharing the experience with the instructor was very enjoyable.

Have fun,

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Use small inputs and return to center and wait a moment before doing more, there can be a slightly longer delay in response than normal... and you don't want to over-control into PIO.

Really though... only tow behind skilled, experienced tug pilots that you trust (or that work at an operation you trust to vet their tug drivers thoroughly)... and FOLLOW THE PLANE.

Seriously. Just follow the plane. Don't over think it :thumbsup:
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By Mr Pou
Read the aerotow sections of whatever training books you may have, other than that, your instructor will teach you everything you need to know. I found it to be a fun challenge.
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By piano_man
On the initial take off (roll out) resist the pull from the tug in order to get the cart rolling, in other words, do NOT let yourself get pulled through the control frame. Notice Jonny's hand position all the way to lift off, his hands are out in front near trim. He comes out of the cart earlier than you should (closer to trim) but he's a top pro. Also the tarmac makes it much smoother at the start. If you're towing on grass (very likely) you'll have to resist more than what's apparent here. You'll want to pop off the cart with enough airspeed so that there's very little to no chance of a stall.

Once you pop off the cart and you're up about 10 - 15 feet, immediately pull-in to level off and wait for the tug to get to your level. There's a lot more to it but I want to make sure you know about getting that cart rolling first and foremost by resisting the initial pull and not letting yourself get pulled through the control frame. Watch pilots tow in person before you start your towing and talk to your instructors about this, it's very important.

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By Nigel Hewitt
I found learning aerotow on a tandem to be very good. (Quest)
Taking the instructor with you gives a constant critique so you home in on the 'sweet spot' very quickly.
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By entelin
I learned originally on AT, and nearly all my 250 some flights are AT. Started on a falcon, currently flying a U2. Here are my thoughts for whatever it's worth.

The main thing I would suggest that can ease your AT training would be to become comfortable flying fast. When trying to stay up we rarely are flying very quickly, and as a result many find they are prone to oscillate at higher speeds. If you are already accustomed to another launching method then take that opportunity to familiarize yourself with the full speed range of your glider while maneuvering. Be safe of course, but AT differs from other launch methods principally in speed.

Some additional thoughts as you progress past your initial training (no particular order):

1: Eyes on the tug at all times, put the wheels on the horizon, do what you need to do to keep them there. When "pro towing" in particular this may even mean bringing your knees up to the control bar at times.
2: Keep your release method present in your mind, and be prepared to release with minimal hesitation if at any point you believe you will not be able to follow the tug.
3: Particularly for the first few hundred feet, know where you will land, weak link failures happen. Launching with your harness unzipped and instrument pod up is not a bad idea.
4: When transitioning to higher performance gliders, or removing a tail fin from a glider you are already comfortable with, *always* take at least your first couple AT flights in smooth morning/evening air.
5: It's worth noting that many aerotow releases will require more force to actuate under significant tension, than under normal tension. If possible try it out under increased tension on the ground, in any case release with an authoritative force even when not required so that when it is required you have a higher probability that your first pull will succeed.
6: Leave the cart when your glider feels ready to pull you off, giving the cart a little airtime is not a bad thing.
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