Gliders and sailplanes with the exception of 'self launching' types have to be launched into the air by external means. Over the years there have been numerous launch methods, but today the most efficient and most common methods of launching are aerotow behind a power plane and winch using a engine driven drum with hundreds of metres of cable.
The following sections describe these launch methods and the types in use at Bacchus Marsh.
Gliders are towed into the sky by another aircraft. The pilot releases the glider from the tow at the desired height. The tow plane then returns to the airfield with the tow rope attached. Some gliders that have a motor than enables them to self launch.
Winch launching is available at Bacchus Marsh Airfield through the Geelong Gliding Club. Have a look at the video below to see a winch launch in action.
Gliders land using a controlled glide approach by opening air brakes to change the angle of descent. The photo below shows a glider with air brakes open - the red panels above the wings. Unlike powered aircraft, gliders only need a short distance to land.