What Is The Best Way To Launch Your Glider?

RC Glider Wingspan

Published: August 5, 2019 am31 3:40 am


Categories: R/C Gliders

There are several ways to launch non-powered RC gliders, none of which are difficult to understand by any means. Still, some are easier than others. This post will offer some key insights by explaining the principles of RC glider launch.

Methods include winch launching, hand launching, piggyback, discus, bungee, and aerotow. We’ll start with the most common method.

What is the Most Common Glider Launching Method?

Hand launching is how most devices are launched when slope soaring from a cliff top or hillside, but it’s also possible from a plain or other flat area. The pilot points the glider in to wind blowing up the slope in their direction – when launching from a slope, obviously. This way the glider catches the wind and stays aloft. From about head height, give your glider a firm push to get it moving at a reasonable speed so it doesn’t stall and drop down.

Also make sure your device is pointing slightly downwards or horizontal as you launch it. If the launch speed isn’t high enough and you launch it with the nose pointing upwards, it is likely to stall and crash. Strong wind can lift the glider right out of your hand, causing you to lose control of it. The airflow over the wings’ top surface is greater when the nose is pointing slightly downwards.

It may be that the glider gains initial altitude straight out of your hand. The wind gives this lift. Use some down elevator at once to lower the nose of the glider and make it move forward beyond the slope. It’s crucial to get that initial penetration in to the wind, which you can achieve by applying some down lift to get the sailplane’s forward speed up. That’s the only way.

You can (and may have to) launch a bigger glider with both hands, whereby the transmitter will be hanging on a strap on your neck. Solo RC glider pilots with big models often have to do this.

Discus Launching

There is a special class of RC gliders called DLGs or Discus Launched Gliders, which come with a specific launch method. It’s no accident the term “discus” is in the name of this method because the glider is launched much like you’d throw a discus. You grip a short pin through one wingtip between your index and your middle fingers and spin around full circle before you toss the glider upwards. The pre-launch spin generates a centrifugal force that is sufficient to launch the glider to a surprising height. The glider will go in to a steep ascent right after launch due to the unique design properties. 

With this method, the strength comes from the technique, so you don’t have to be strong physically. Discus launched gliders are great for thermal soaring over a flat area.

Winch Launching

Image source: https://www.hooked-on-rc-airplanes.com/rc-gliders.html  

A long line takes up the glider with this method, as with the next one, which is the bungee launch. According to informed sources, the difference with winch launching is that a powerful winch reels in the line. Normally, you operate it by a pedal switch at your feet.

Laying out and setting up the winch takes a lot of space, but on the upside, it’s easy for a single person to do. It’s a great option if there is no one there to assist you.  

Once you reach the desired altitude, you can put the RC glider briefly into a steep dive. After that, pull up sharply to release the line from the tow hook.

How does bungee launching measure up?

Image source: https://www.hooked-on-rc-airplanes.com/rc-gliders.html  

This can be done on flat ground or a gentle slope. This method of launching involves a long elastic cord extended by non-stretch cord (ten times longer than the elastic one.) At one end, the bungee is attached to a hook on the bottom of the glider. It is pegged into the ground at the other end.

To launch the glider, attach the line to the glider hook and move away as to stretch the bungee. The glider is released when the right stretch has been reached. Then, the bungee pulls the glider up to a decent altitude. It releases itself and starts flying with a small pull back on the elevator stick at the peak of ascent. After that, the bungee falls back to the ground.

What are Some Glider Launching No-Nos?  

We’ll start with the biggest one – cutting corners on quality. Always buy the best quality you can afford. Also, stick to mild winch launches and a high start. 

Don’t Be Tempted to Go for Height

Use less tension at your first few attempts compared to what you would for maximum height. With practice, you’ll gain more experience, and as that happens, you can begin increasing the distance you stretch the bungee back and the amount of tension you apply. Remember that high-start launches are quite fast and it’s very easy for an inexperienced pilot to lose control and suffer a crash. For more details, check out this video tutorial.