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Safe Winch Launching

The resources on this page have been put together as part of the BGA Safe Winch Launching Initiative. We hope that all glider pilots will make use of this to increase their knowledge of winch launching - and of what can go wrong. By doing this, everybody can contribute to our efforts to maintain the improvement in safety seen in the first seven years of this BGA initiative.

The information presented here builds upon the messages from the earlier stages of the initiative. Accidents resulting from stalls and spins following power loss during the launch (cable break, winch failure etc) have declined dramatically - but we all need to remember the earlier advice:

  • after take-off, maintain a shallow climb until adequate speed is seen with continued acceleration. Then allow the glider to rotate at a controlled pace. If power is lost near the ground, immediately lower the nose to the appropriate recovery attitude.
  • after a power loss in mid-launch, adopt the recovery attitude, wait until the glider regains a safe approach speed, and land ahead if it is safe to do so.

Cartwheeling accidents - predominantly to experienced pilots - are still happening as a result of not releasing the cable if the wing drops during the ground run.

  • If you can't keep the wings level before take-off, release before the wing touches the ground.


Safe Winch Launching DVD

February 2013

A DVD containing four presentations featuring;

1. how to fly a winch launch safely

This is also supplied in .wmv and .mp4 formats for playing on tablets, smartphones, etc. You can also stream this presentation from YouTube or download from here:

>>> .wmv format <<<
>>> .mp4 format <<<

2. background detailing how the advice was established.

A PowerPoint presentation, with optional voice-over, providing some of the analysis and detail of how the advice on safe winch launching was derived.

The presentation is available on the DVD. Please see any BGA instructor to see a copy.

3. new advice on how everyone involved in the winch launch process can contribute to a safe wings-level take-off.

>>> play slideshow <<<

4. winch operations best-practice.

>>> play slideshow <<<

If you are involved in winch launching in any capacity (launch point controller, tractor driver, winch driver, wing runner, etc., and, of course, as a pilot) please view the movie on ‘How to Fly a Winch Launch Safely, part 1’ and the ‘Stop the Drop’ and ‘Winch Operations’ presentations. 

The DVD has been distributed to all BGA instructors. Please follow the links above or obtain a copy from a club instructor.

Further Information

Safe Winch Launching
May 2015 edition

A BGA booklet containing previously published winch launching advice, together with material drawn from the BGA Instructors' Manual. This is, in effect, a mini-manual to aid safe winch launching.

Safe Winch Launching
May 2015 edition

A BGA leaflet summarising the main advice about how to fly a safe winch launch.

Video Clips

Thankfully, most of us never experience a serious winch launch accident. These simulated videos show you just what can go wrong - and how quickly it all happens.


An interactive quiz to test your knowledge of safe winch launching. Contains answers and detailed explanations. If you are not sure about anything - ask an instructor.

(Flash required to run quiz)

Any comments or feedback about the safe winch launch initiative would be welcomed. Please Email the BGA Safety Initiative team via this link.


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