Rope breaks!  For too many reasons to enumerate here, they do happen.  And like flat tires they can be very inconvenient, but if you’re prepared and operating properly they don’t have to be disasters.  Even so, better to avoid them than not.

It’s gratifying that nearly all rope breaks occur in training.  The higher this percentage the better, if you think about it.  It’s true that unplanned, or ‘real’ emergencies provide a more profound variety of training, but full application of that logic would suggest no emergency training at all, and who’d want that?

No, as unfun as slack rope can be, training for it is a practical necessity, and occasional breaks are a fair price — one always paid by whomever’s waiting for the next tow. I hereby propose a small procedural nicety that will cost nothing and could potentially help someone sometime (YOU, SOON) avoid unnecessary ‘inconvenience’.

We had a break not long ago while practicing slack line recoveries.  Not a big deal.  What’s noteworthy is our tow pilot said later that he felt a harder yank on the tow before ours, and suggested that first one might have compromised our weak link… If there were evidence of such, we destroyed it. This suggests that pilots at either end of any line would do well to report unusually hard yanks by radio the moment they happen, whether in training or ‘real’ life, so someone on the ground can take an extra close look before the next tow calls for hookup.

We all know how easy it is to casually glance over and nod before takeoff without careful visual confirmation that the rope (and rings) are actually sound.   Eventually, one fellow pilot confessing an awkward moment on tow could provide another with just the heads-up needed to prevent inadvertent sabotage… Which of these two would you rather be?


The coming week will be our last days of operation for the remainder of this year, after which we’ll go on hiatus a while for maintenance (and recuperation). We’ll be closed from Tuesday, December 17 through Friday, January 10, and will reopen on Saturday, January 11, 2020. You can still reach us through this website to purchase gift certificates, even after the holidays for that matter.

Here’s wishing everyone the very best of whichever holidays you celebrate, and we look forward to resuming normal operations after these shortest days start growing longer again.


This is an appeal to all tow pilots, but because few who read it are tow pilots, it’s up to us as their followers to relay the message. It is we, after all, who stand to benefit.
Ever landed straight into a setting sun? You’ve probably driven a car there, or commuted into that same sun as it’s rising, and know the hazard. Almost anything is better, right? Tow pilots should know that too, bless their hearts, yet sometimes circumstances or unthinking chance lead them straight into a setting sun – with us squinting at their six.

They can divert their gaze and do fine, but we who follow them must hold eyes on that silhouetted tug even as the blasting light fries our retinas. How long before normal vision fully returns after such a toasting? Too long.

Add a real life abort to that and…

Granted, few glider pilots launch less than an hour before sundown, but it does happen. Say you’re rushing an aero-retrieve while there’s barely time to get home before dark. Or a test hop after some maintenance so she’ll be ready to roar first thing tomorrow? In fact we were launching multiple pattern tows till local sunset this very November.

This time of year the sun is low all day long, but like most things, it can only be in one place at a time, which leaves 359 other directions to fly without heading straight at it shortly after takeoff.

Landing, however, offers less freedom. Here at Crystal, we may chose to take off and land with a light tailwind rather than stare at the demon sun, so we can see all other traffic whether they’re blinded or not. It’s a fine solution, weather permitting, so long as other traffic is accounted for and sufficient communication takes place.

Otherwise, sunsets are better watched from the ground!


Expect more winterlike weather over the next few days, including more cloudiness than usual but little additional precip. If the forecast is accurate, we have a good chance of classic wave for the weekend followed by its counterpart, bow wave, on Monday.