East Anglia Towing Again

East Anglia Towing Once More

After the Himalayas it was six weeks before I flew again. Apparently some Norfolk people were again towing. Wooster and I travelled over to Eye airfield, met Tony and Rona Webb (and Phil!) and proceeded to sample Lejair's flying school activities. They were using a pay-out winch system just like Mike Lake and Paul Whitley's. I couldn't wait. Even Wooster was persuaded to take some initial training.

Eye, July 1984


That's Rona, with another student pilot in the winch trailor; and this is Tony ready for take off. Wooster is being kitted up by Tony and Nigel (Webb) and briefed for a "man tow". Man power (sorry Rona) was provided by Phil, Rona and Nigel, and yes with Tony instructing alongside, he's off! Then Wooster graduates to a fixed line car tow.


A busy place Eye airfield, when there are signs of aeronautical activity. Snowy and Judy drop by in a trike, and John Sharpe (plus ?) turns up in a novel canard pusher microlight. Finally I take some launches. Look closely and you will see the tow line disappearing down to a tiny vehicle in the middle of the runway. Splendid runway!


But you did need a runway, preferably a long one, and what's more, you needed the wind up or down the runway. Nevertheless, this was a much less stringent condition than was needed for coastal flying, as evidenced by the log book (pp10 & 11) recording nearly 50 launches on 10 occasions at Eye and Flixton by the end of the year, whereas I flew only once more on the coast at West Runton.


Learning to take off when there was a cross-wind component was essential - especially on light wind thermic days when the wind could swing rapidly.


We tried various ruses to defeat the capricious wind - like doing dog-legs: starting along the main runway then swinging onto the spur runway or a peri track (provided the wind was in the sector between them). This considerably increased the hazard (towlines passing over crops or vehicles) and didn't always yield much extra altitude.


Flixton airfield was the only other place that Tony and Rona had access to. The runway was less convenient - and was being grubbed up for hardcore - but they had to use what they could. Here we are on a very cold 27th October. Paul Whitley had come along to try out his new Magic 1.


Here he is putting my kite into the usual radical Paullian manoeuvres. I didn't dare try to emulate them, besides my mind was taken up with experimentation. This was a day when I had fitted my angle-of-attack-indicator device, and flew at various constant airspeeds whilst memorising the angle of attack. For these tests smooth air (not necessarily wind-less) was the preferred condition, but my first two launches had resulted in extended flights of 10 minutes or so in weak lift. It was all part of the development of a computer program to try to maximise the gain of height from a pay-out winch launch in different conditions. The details of this will eventually appear on my theory page - I swear! Although tow-launching was showing promise, I was disappointed at the year end in not having achieved any XCs from the tow. The following year would change all that.

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