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Lesson 6a - Slack Line

Lesson Objective

Inevitably, the glider pilot may be faced with the situation of slack line in the tow rope. These situations happen especially during gusty conditions, during towplane malfunctions (towplane decelerating),  getting terribly out of position, rapid towplane banking, or just flying cross-country on aerotow.   The instructor may call the tow pilot and ask him to reduce his rate of climb, and will demonstrate getting into slack rope situations, and how to deal with them smoothly.

Regulatory Requirement


  • There are at least four recovery modes of slack rope:
    • Do nothing (only suitable for momentary slack situations)
    • Yaw away from the slack (not very useful on CG hook equipped gliders)
    • Pull dive-brakes (especially suitable for cross country aerotow, or over-run situations)
    • Release (most desperate act for the unrecoverable situation)
  • Failure to recover from significant slack correctly can cause the rope to break
  • Entanglement of the rope around the glider's fuselage or wing is unacceptable, and the procedure must be aborted before this situation can develop.
  • Release if the slack in the rope ever gets to the wing, to avoid wing entanglement

Completion Standards

Practical Test Standards:
 Objective. To determine that the student:

  1. Exhibits knowledge hazards, and
  2. Recognizes smooth corrective situations.

The student must be able to perform:

  • Slack line recovery as described above and in the Glider Flying Handbook. 

The student must be able to explain:

  • Hazards of wing or fuselage entanglement
  • Hazards of unexpected rope break
  • The four slack line recovery modes for various situations

Prerequisite Study

Video Illustration

  • Soaring Safety Foundation "SSF PTS Slack Line Recovery" (YouTube)

Next Lesson: 6b -- Aerotow Emergency Procedures
Previous Lesson: 5c -- Wave
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