View Full Version : Gliding costs, time etc
4th Aug 2001, 17:16
Could someone who knows anything about gliding please answer my questions please?
1)What exactly is a winch launch, I know its for launching gliders, but how does it work? whats the average cost per launch? under £10?
2)whats the average cost of an aerotow? £20?whats better about it than a winch that justifies its cost? extra height?
3)How high , on average, if youre a beginner would you go, winched and towed?
4)How long does say 1000 feet last in a glider, on average?
5)what kind of operating costs are we looking at per hour? I see some places say £6 winch launch then 20p per minute, thats dirt cheap. They also say £15 for flights but how long would that last etc. Do some places make it a fixed cost for a flight and others make it a certain cost per minute + launching and/or instructors?
6) How long might a flight from 1200 feet via winch launch with instruction
If you can answer any of these questions then thanks but please dont give me a link because I have been looking at loads of gliding websites and these are the things I couldnt find out there.
4th Aug 2001, 18:49
I'm by no means a glider pilot (unfortunately) but I have been investigating it for quite a while now. This is what Ihave been told.
To answer your questions in order:
1)A winch launch is exactly what is says, imagine the winch off a Search and Rescue helicopter, I assume its practically the same, although probably more robust, a little bit more powerful and longer cable length, I think average launch is £5.
2)Cost, no idea, extra advantage, with a winch you are limited to how long that winch is, and if it puts you in the fluffy white stuff that aint good, and Aerotow lets you gain as much height as the pilot will give you and avoid a few airborne nasties.
What justifies its extra cost? Its an aeroplane, it uses fuel, so costs more, naturally.
3)Think the average length for a winch is 1000-3000 feet, I believe, how high will you go with an aerotow? well, how longs a piece of string I suppose? But I assume it is dependent on weather conditions and how high the tow aircraft wants to go to.
4)There is no average what so ever, its all what the weather is doing, if you find stable air that isn't going up, not so long, but if you find nice unstable air isn't resisting vertical movement, or thermals, orographic lifting currents or even street clouds, your time aloft can be quite long. But this is totally dependent on how the weather is behaving, and to a degree your ability to get the aircraft to those precious pieces or air (apologies if my met is poor).
5)Costs, well from what I have seen its around a fiver for a winch tow at most places and then around 20-50p per minute, but I believe if you help out around the club enough you may get certain discounts, although I don't know.
6)Again, how long is a piece of string, and how much does it cost?
As I say this is just what I have been told from a variety of sources, apologies if my met stuff is wrong, or if any other info is incorrect. Please put me right!
Hope it helps,
[ 04 August 2001: Message edited by: Rusty Cessna ]
[ 04 August 2001: Message edited by: Rusty Cessna ]
4th Aug 2001, 19:24
Gliding Clubs vary from the entirely member operated, weekend only, winch launch sites like my own, Oxford gliding club to the professionally staffed, full time aero tow only sites like Booker. There are all shades in between.
Oxford Gliding Club operates at Weston on the Green airfield, winch launch only, weekends and bank holidays only plus two weeks in August when the Parachutists are not operating, this year from 20 Aug..
Annual membership is £140, launches are £4 and a/c hire is 20p. per minute. The fleet consists of 1 X DG 505 High performance two seater for advanced training, 2 X K13 for ab initio training, 2 X K8 for early solo flying and 2 X Astir for more advanced solo work. We also have a T21 Sedberg two seater for fun. Most people get into a syndicate after a couple of years or so but that is a personal choice. Unless you fly a lot, it`s an expensive way to Glide but you don`t have to wait for an aircraft.
I recommend winch launching as the way to learn properly as you do a lot of circuits and landings and practice makes perfect. You cannot `go around`in a glider. You can get to solo quicker with aerotows but you do not have the solid background of lots of practice and lots of chat between flights. The disadvantages of the system are that you generally need to put in a full day to get in maybe half a dozen launches and it could be less.
We have a good winch and a large field. Launches are rarely below 1400`, often more. A K13 training flight, without soaring, will generally last 6-8 minutes. If conditions are soarable this will always be attempted and the flight will last 20-30 minutes. Soaring is the whole essence of gliding so that is taught whenever possible. Continuity of training is important, one day every six weeks and it will take for ever. Every weekend for six weeks and you`ll be solo. Something in between is best. Most ab initios will solo somewhere between 50 and 100 launches. It can be a good idea to do your training in the winter. There will not be so many people to fly, so your turn will come around quicker and the days are shorter so you wont find yourself packing the hangar at 10 p.m..
`Trial lessons` are expensive at £25, a `mini course` of three flights is better value.
I think that`s all your queries covered as far as I can cover them, perhaps someone from another Club can quote their costs and give a different perspective.
4th Aug 2001, 19:41
Sorry, missed the bit about how does a winc launch work.
Yo fix one end of a wire cable to the glider and the other end to a 150-200 horsepower engine with some safety weak links, cable parachute, winch drum and paying on gear in between. On the order `up slack` the cable is slowly wound in by the winch driver until the glider begins to move, the order `all out` is given and the driver accellerates the winch so that the glider reaches takeoff speed, rises into the air, and at a safe height, is pulled back into a climb at 50 Knots and at least 45 degrees. Climb rate will be 2000 fpm or better. When the max possible height is reached, the cable will release automatically or be released by the pilot. Advantage:- quick and cheap. Aerotows go as high as you are prepared to pay for and usually drop you in a thermal so you have the nail biting (and skillful) bit taken out.
5th Aug 2001, 13:25
I started gliding three years ago so am still a novice but my experiences are at least recent so thought I would give you my viewpoint.
An aerotow gives you more time to learn the basics of control before getting into the hard bits (take off and landing!). I suggest you learn both methods if possible as a winch launch on a good day when you can “get away” is a lot cheaper alternative once your skills improve.
The club I am learning with charges £17:50 for a 2000-foot aerotow plus 29p per minute for the use of the glider. All instruction is by club members so free of charge. Once you get to the stage where you are doing spins etc. then it is usual to take a higher tow to allow a series of exercises. We have a £5.50 winch charge whatever height is achieved and the annual membership is £190.
The time of each flight is very dependant on weather and also the tasks being performed. When doing cable break exercises my log book has several 1 minute flights logged and even two at 0 minutes!
For an hours flight from a 2000’ aerotow in one of the clubs glass single seaters the cost is less than £35.00. If you use the older wooden glider and managed an hour from a winch launch this would cost only £14,50! Of course this is very dependant on conditions and a typical 20 minutes from a 2000’ aerotow would cost £23.30.
Most clubs will expect you to be an active member rather than just turn up and fly, so be prepared to spend time on the ground assisting the operation. Some people find this a problem but others find it a very relaxing way to spend a day in the fresh air!
I suggest you simply visit a reasonable large club and spend a day seeing what happens and decide from there. I also suggest you start with a day course rather than a simple trial flight or gliding experience as you will get a lot more for your money.
Once you are solo it is just the beginning so there are always new targets to reach for. I hope you get as much out of it as I have.