Silent Knights Tow Pilot Standard Operating Procedures

Effective 3/22/09



1 6 tows in the last 12 months

2 Complete a ground and flight checkout every 12 months

3 Practice partial and full power failures, electrical fire, and engine fire procedures

4 Complete 3 Takeoffs and Landings in the Super Cub in the last 60 days.

5 Own and review annually a copy of Burt Compton’s Tow Pilot Manual.

6 Annually take the on-line tow pilot refresher course located at

7 Upset training with an aerobatics instructor in an aerobatic airplane is encouraged




1. Towpilots are scheduled for weekends; other days or off-hours are by personal arrangement.

2. Glider pilots are expected to notify towpilots when they wish a launch.

3. Towpilots find their own replacement and notify the Chief Towpilot.

Equipment & preflight:

1. Check operation of tow release before first tow of day.

2. Verify the rope condition, ring condition, and whether a Tost hook will be used

3. Know the rope breaking strength and ask the glider pilot for the gross glider weight.

4. Grease the tailwheel 2x per month and note it in the orange logbook

5. Change oil every 25 hrs – notify maintenance officer first, note in orange log & aircraft log

6.A testflight around the pattern before towing is encouraged.




1. Normally, fuel the right tank completely. The left tank should be 1/8-1/4 full.

2. Use auto fuel or Avgas – charge it to the club or buy it yourself and report to Treasurer

3.Fuel ups are necessary every 6-8 tows, never make more than 10 tows before refueling.



Launch sequence:

1. Confirm glider pilot’s anticipated altitude release, desired speed and plans for the tow.

2. Avoid hooking up in the intersection of 01/19 and 13/31 as it shuts down the whole airport.

3. At hook up, position the towplane 90 degrees to the glider and facing the traffic pattern

4. Mentally plan for the next emergency: loss of control, engine failure, traffic conflict, etc.

USE SSA SIGNALS and confirm by radio if possible.

5. Glider: “10, 5, 1, slack out, canopy & airbrakes closed & locked ready for takeoff,”

Tow: “Confirm canopy & airbrakes locked. Ames Area Traffic, Super Cub 4384Z, departing

Runway __, glider in tow, climbing to ____.”


Flight Parameters:

1. Predetermine your liftoff point and be prepared to terminate the launch if you’re not airborne

at that point. Do not launch off runway 13 with the glider beyond the first taxiway. Do not

launch off runway 31 with the glider past the VASI lights. Feel free to tell the glider to push

further back on any runway as you deem the conditions to require.

2. Terminate operations if 200 fpm climb cannot be maintained over 1000 AGL

3. No passengers in the tow plane; avoid checkflights when density altitude exceeds 2000 MSL

4. Avoid prolonged full-power flight over noise-sensitive areas

5. Maintain full power during climb.

6. Know the glider’s best climb speed – ask if you don’t.

7. Maximum CHT is 500 – but exercise extreme caution above 450 degrees.

8. Cool the engine no faster than 30 degrees F per minute or 1 degree every 2 seconds.

(If the prop stops mid stroke at shut down, the engine was shock-cooled.)

9. The sliding window must fully open or fully closed in full side slips or it will blow in.

10. Beware the hanging window when starting the engine or in-flight; a banging window will


11. Make all approaches to landing 200 feet above obstacles.

12. Landing on the grass or pavement is permitted, however, use the grass, only if 1) you have

taxied over the landing area first to assess the runway condition, (sogginess, gopher holes, rocks,

etc.) and 2) you will pose no risk of striking signs, power lines, people or cars with the tow rope.




1. Log the glider flights with pilot name, glider used, and release altitude; store in file cabinet

2. Log the flight time & tows in the orange book.


4. Plug in the Tanis heater

5. Lock the door and place cinder blocks to secure

6. Replace the chain at the gate.

7.Report squawks to the maintenance officer and place a note on the towplane seat prominently.



This operations procedure is not intended to contradict any manufacturer recommendation or

conflict with any FAR. Operations procedures are subject to change without notice.