First tow with Rhett


Mike with his new gigantic glider

Memorial Day weekend, where Sunday had an orienteering meet for Nancy and me to go to, followed by some lighthouse visiting in Connecticut. Sunday seemed like the best best for flying (turned out to be so-so, I think), as Monday looked blown out, and Saturday rainy. But the weather cleared up on Saturday afternoon, and I called Rhett to see if he was towing at Tanner-Hiller. He was there, and said that the conditions looked pretty good. I quickly tossed a couple of gliders on the roof of my car and headed over.

Tanner-Hiller is the closest flying site to my house, less than an hour away. The aerotow training that I did in Florida back in December was largely so that I could fly there. I had yet to tow with Rhett, though, who is widely regarded as the best tug pilot around. When I arrived, Mike A, Max K, and Michelle were already there, but no gliders were set up. The sky was clearing, so I asked if we were waiting for anything in particular, and Rhett said to go ahead and get ready.

Rhett got me set up with tow release equipment while the other three got ready to fly. Michelle went first, followed by Max, while I preflighted my Falcon. In the process, I found an assembly problem that had me perplexed, and I was just about convinced that I’d have to take it home to figure it out, and not actually fly. Rhett took a look when he came to tow Mike, and deduced the mistake I had made when putting the sail back on after Marilyn had done some repair work. A couple of minutes and a Philips screwdriver was all it took to straighten things out, and I was back in business, and ready for my first flight on this particular wing in over two years.

I was in position on the cart when Rhett returned. He hooked me up and provided some advice as to what to do if the control bar pressure didn’t feel the way way I wanted (the position of the tow point was a bit of a guess). A thorough hang check, and he headed for the plane, and when I was ready I gave the signal and we took off. The slight wind had died down by this point, and the tow was perfectly smooth and uneventful. He dropped me off near the airport, and I scoped out the rain that he had mentioned off to the west. I took a gentle sledder back to the runway, landing near the hangar shortly before the sprinkles started. A hurried packing-up ended the day, and I had a new flying site under my belt.

And Sunday turned out to be a beautiful day for visiting lighthouses.

flights: 1, duration: 0:15

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About cleversky

Hang glider pilot in New England since 2004. Also an avid orienteer, and an embedded systems firmware engineer. And some other outdoor stuff.
This entry was posted in Flying days, Tanner-Hiller and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to First tow with Rhett

  1. Really enjoyed the posts, particularly about Tanner- Hiler and Rhett. I am scheduled to go up for the first time on Oct. 19th. I was glad to read your comments on him because you seem to know whereof you speak.
    My adult daughter is visiting from London and we have always talked about hang gliding. Very exciting. It also provided a good motivator to lose 25 approach.
    I live in Southeastern Mass and If all goes well I would like to take some lessons and make hang gliding a part of my life. From what I have researched it seems like tandem lessons are the most efficient way to learn to fly.
    I thought to learn to foot launch after I became comfortable with the flying.
    Please comment if you have thoughts on this reasoning.
    In the meantime,
    Thank you for writing this blog

    Richard Van Voris

  2. cleversky says:

    HI Richard,

    Some people prefer learning to fly by aerotowing, some by foot-launching, and some by a mixture, it’s all a matter of personal preference. Aerotowing definitely gets you in the air a lot quicker; with just foot-launching (which is what I did), you can spend a lot of days getting just a few seconds of flying at a time before developing the skills to go to the mountains and start soaring. But it also means that you learn launching and landing right away and get a chance to really develop those skills. I’ve met flatland pilots who only aerotow and who have never landed on their feet, because they can roll in on wheels at the flight park. That’s fine, until you want to land in some unfamiliar field with tall grass. Strictly aerotow also means that you pay for a lot of tandem flights before you can solo. Since I could already fly when I learned to tow, I was able to get that rating quickly. A mixture of the two is probably best.

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