Safe Winch Launching

The resources on this page have been put together as part of the BGA Safe Winch Launching Initiative. We hope that all glider pilots will make use of this to increase their knowledge of winch launching – and of what can go wrong. By doing this, everybody can contribute to our efforts to maintain the improvement in safety seen in the first nine years of this BGA initiative.

The information presented here builds upon the messages from the earlier stages of the initiative. Accidents resulting from stalls and spins following power loss during the launch (cable break, winch failure etc) have declined dramatically – but we all need to remember the earlier advice:

  • after take-off, maintain a shallow climb until adequate speed is seen with continued acceleration. Then allow the glider to rotate at a controlled pace. If power is lost near the ground, immediately lower the nose to the appropriate recovery attitude.
  • after a power loss in mid-launch, adopt the recovery attitude, wait until the glider regains a safe approach speed, and land ahead if it is safe to do so.

Cartwheeling accidents – predominantly to experienced pilots – are still happening as a result of not releasing the cable if the wing drops during the ground run.

  • If you can’t keep the wings level before take-off, release before the wing touches the ground
  • Wing tip holder: STOP THE LAUNCH if there is an up or down force at the tip

A video is available of a wing drop that could easily have become a cartwheel.

A poster is available for display at clubs – it includes the critically important advice for wing tip holders.

Safe Winch Launching Resources

PresentationsThere are four presentations, each covering different aspects of safe winch launching. If you are involved in winch launching in any capacity (launch point controller, tractor driver, winch driver, wing runner, etc., and, of course, as a pilot) please view the movie on ‘How to Fly a Winch Launch Safely, part 1’ and the ‘Stop the Drop’ and ‘Winch Operations’ presentations.
winch-presn2How to Fly a Winch Launch Safely (part 1)
This presentation with voiceover contains the essential advice to help all pilots fly a winch launch safely. The presentation is available for download in .avi and .wmf formats. Alternatively you can stream the presentation on YouTube.
winch-presn2How to Fly a Winch Launch Safely (part 2)
This presentation provides some of the analysis and detail of how the advice on safe winch launching presented in Part 1 was derived. The presentation can be downloaded for offline viewing or streamed via Youtube. It is also available, along with Part 1, on the Safe Winch Launching DVD (see below). Please ask any BGA instructor to see a copy.
winch-presn3Stop the Drop
Advice on how everybody involved in the winch launch process can contribute to a safe, wings-level takeoff.
winch-presn4Winch Operations
Winch operations best practice.
PublicationsThese documents are available for download. Additionally, club CFIs have been sent stocks for distribution to members. If these are not available at your club, you can obtain a printed copy from the BGA office.
Safe Winch Launches Booklet - Cover - ThumbSafe Winch Launch Booklet
A BGA booklet containing previously published winch launching advice, together with material drawn from the BGA Instructors' Manual. This is, in effect, a mini-manual to aid safe winch launching
Safe Winch Launches Summary - Cover - ThumbSafe Winch Launch Leaflet
A BGA leaflet summarising the main advice about how to fly a safe winch launch.
simulationThankfully, most of us never experience a serious winch launch accident. These video simulations show you just what can go wrong - and how quickly it all happens.
quizlinkAn interactive quiz to test your knowledge of safe winch launching. Contains answers and detailed explanations. If you are not sure about anything - ask an instructor.
PrintA Safe Winch Launching DVD has been distributed (Feb 2013) to all BGA instructors. You can download the majority of the content using the links above. Alternatively, if you would like to use the DVD, please ask an instructor.