|Aerotowing Gliders - A
guide to towing gliders, with an emphasis on safety
Author: John Marriott
Book, Paperback, 130 pages, dozens of black and white images and
drawings, Published in
Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.3 inches
(229 x 152 x 8 mm)
Introduction in the book
This book on aerotowing gliders was written because there is little
reference material published about the subject worldwide. The best I
have found is 'Towplane Manual'
by Burt Compton and published as part of Bob Wander's Gliding Mentor
Series in the USA. So because of the lack of published information, I
thought it important to gather the wealth of knowledge that is out there
on the subject, collate it and present it to our community in the
interests of safety ands efficiency
This book is intended as a comprehensive guide to glider towing
operations, with that all important emphasis on safety. The intent is to
provide all the relevant information in one straightforward, easy to
read book. The notes are intended to be very generic and non-country
specific. Even though local procedures differ, hopefully the information
should be useful to any glider tug pilot, anywhere in the world. Each
gliding organization has its operating environment and problems,
therefore should adapt, further or improve these suggestions to suit
their own needs.
You will find that some important points are emphasized and sometimes
It is fundamental that every tug pilot be a person who is both
trustworthy and highly reliable as it is a flying task with huge
responsibility placed on the pilot. Aerotowing is expensive, can be
noisy and has its own special hazards. These factors have a bearing on
the very existence of gliding and it is therefore essential that glider
aerotowing be carried out safely, efficiently and thoughtfully, paying
particular regard to our neighbors. Your particular aerotowing should of
course be carried out in accordance with national laws, regulations,
procedures and in conjunction with your organization's flying rules.
As the pilots in command of an aircraft you are ultimately responsible
for the safe conduct of the flight and the actions that you choose to
take. The glider pilot's requirements should of course be accommodated
as far as possible.
Glider aerotowing should be good for your general flying skills. As a
flying and gliding instructor for over twenty five years, I have noticed
that most glider tug pilots are often also glider pilots and have above
average handling and situational awareness skills. Flying tugs should of
course also be quite good fun!
It is hoped that this comprehensive book will meet the ground school
requirements of any current or future glider towing ratings.
About the Author
Having spent the major part of my gliding life at glider winch launch
sites, compared with some I’m not actually that experienced a tug pilot;
I have a few hundred hours (mainly) on Pawnees, Supermunks (Lycoming
engined Chipmunks), Robins and a little in Super Cubs. However, I do
have over twenty five years experience as a full category gliding
instructor, motor glider instructor, light aircraft flying instructor,
loads of free time (not!) and because of this – and the fact they
couldn’t find anyone else - the British Gliding Association (BGA) in its
wisdom asked me to be its senior glider tug pilot.
I have acquired some
17,000 hours in powered aircraft, including over 3,000 in light aircraft
and motorgliders, and over 1,000 in gliders. I pay the mortgage by being
a Boeing 777 captain for British Airways. I also have a safety job for
the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) and am an accredited
accident investigator for the International Federation of Airline Pilots
A few years ago
while I was a ‘relatively’ bored first officer flying Boeing 747s and at
the ripe old age of 44 years I embarked on a distance learning MSc
course in Air Safety Management. Thanks to six day trips sitting around
some remote destinations with not much else to do, I managed to complete
the MSc two years later.
I’m very lucky, as
gliding clubs in the UK are generally well run and have fine tugmasters
who execute a sensible, pragmatic and safe approach to their operations.
Over the past few
years of doing the job, I’ve wrung the minds of many experienced tug
pilots and simply tried to bring together best practices and disseminate
them amongst our community.
Review by Pete
Stratten, British Gliding Association Chief Executive and weekend
instructor/tug pilot at Windrushers Gliding Club - from Sailplane and
Gliding magazine, Aug/Sept 2011
As a tug
pilot with a few hours of experience, but with seemingly too long
gaps between towing sessions, I've often thought that a printed
aerotowing guide that provided accessible information and tips would
be a helpful addition to any tuggie's bookshelf, regardless of his
or her experience. Certainly when I was a Class Rating
Instructor and helped with training tug pilots at my club, it would
have been very helpful to have a comprehensive source of information
and written advice to stick under the tug pilot wannabe's nose, well
before the flying and fun started. So when John Marriott
recently visited the BGA office clutching the first, hot off the
press copy of his book Aerotowing Gliders, I was only too
pleased to have a read through it.
clearly spent a lot of time carefully researching the subject
matter. From the introduction by Sir John Allison right
through to the last page, the book adopts a light, but informative,
style that reflects John's flying and teaching experience and an
awareness of the needs of everyone involved in an aerotow operation
- including the gliding club treasurer!
lecturing us, John refers frequently to known, sensible safe
operating practices that have served us well for many decades and
continue to do so. Dotted throughout the book there are a
number of references to human factors issues that John relates very
clearly to tug operating.
others' experience, John has included a number of quotes from tug
and glider pilots, who have had their own 'interesting' moments.
As a qualified accident investigator, John is only too aware of how
easily any of us can get it wrong. Quite early on in the text,
we are reminded of the 'Swiss Cheese' model and John demonstrates
very clearly how, if we can close the gap by trapping and mitigating
or avoiding hazards in flight, we can minimize risk to a reasonable
level and therefore keep the experience fun.
will help any tug pilot to consistently achieve all of that in what
can be, at times, a challenging aerotowing environment.
I have no
hesitation in recommending Aerotowing Gliders to experienced
tug pilots, as well as those PPL holders who have yet to become tug