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Burt Compton soloed in 1968 and is a "Gold Seal" Glider Flight Instructor. He
is one of 200 Master CFI's nationwide as designated by the National Association
of Flight Instructors. He has flown dozens of types of gliders, ranging from
training gliders to racing sailplanes. He also holds a Commercial Certificate in
Airplanes and Seaplanes and is a Flight Instructor in Airplanes.
This towpilot manual is a compilation of aerotow procedures used in the USA. I have gathered information based on established methods and my own experience as a towpilot since 1970. I have flown more than 30 different types of gliders on aerotow at more than 30 different soaring sites, including my own glider flight school, Miami Gliders Corporation.
Earning a glider towing endorsement can be very rewarding. The towpilot is an essential element in the sport of soaring, and assumes a substantial amount of responsibility for both the towplane and the glider being towed. Many new towpilots are not themselves glider pilots. From the towpilot's perspective, the aerotow emergency scenarios can sometimes be very subtle and unusual, not seen in any other type of flying. The energy, momentum, and dynamics of two aircraft attached by a 200-foot rope can lead to some dangerous situations. To ensure safe operation, the risk must be managed by discussing the situations that may suddenly develop into an emergency, and by maintaining awareness of the options available to the towpilot during every phase of flight.
I recognize that approved aerotow procedures may vary depending on geographic location, airport environment, and types of towplanes and gliders used. When you are preparing the "towpilot flight ops" book for your organization, study the manufacturer's Pilot Operating Handbook (POH) for the specific towplanes and gliders that you operate. In addition, study the SSA Soaring Flight Manual chapter on aerotow to review recommended aerotow procedures.
Finally, I dedicate this manual to every towpilot who has ever towed me
aloft, and to my mentor, Fritz Compton.
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