Wing Runner Suggestions
Recently, I was flying the Blanik L13AC on a day when the surface wind was an estimated NNE @ 10 kt. After lining the glider up for take-off on Rwy 32, I completed my checklists and gave the wingrunner a thumbs-up signal. As the last of the slack was taken out of the tow rope, I noticed the glider’s nose turning a bit to the right (remember the fully-castering tailwheel and the big vertical fin?). As the glider began to move, the wing-runner allowed the glider to continue turning. I applied full left rudder as he released the wing, but nothing happened – I was headed for the weeds and gopher holes on the right side of the runway. Just as I reached for the release handle, the rudder began to bite, and the glider straightened out. The rest of the take-off was uneventful.
Directional control on take-off can be a big problem for Blaniks and any glider using a C.G. hook, particularly in a cross-wind. The wing-runner can be a big help by paying careful attention to keeping the glider lined up with the tow rope and the wings level. As the glider starts to move, focus your attention on the glider more than on the towplane. As the glider picks up speed, let go of the wing before you become unable to maintain alignment.