INTO THE SUNSET? NO THANX!

THE ONLY THING TO DO WITH GOOD ADVICE IS PASS IT ON.

IT’S NEVER OF ANY USE TO ONESELF.

quote from Oscar Wilde

This is an appeal to all tow pilots, but because few who read it will be tow pilots, you as one of their followers must relay the message. It’s you after all who stands 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. Yet there are times when circumstances or unthinking chance lead them straight into a setting sun – with you squinting at their six.  

Granted, few soaring pilots take off 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, and when the air was light we chose to take off and land with a tailwind rather than stare at that demon sun. That way we could see all other traffic, whether they were blinded or not.

Tow pilots can divert their gaze and do fine, but you must keep eyes on that silhouetted tug even as the blasting light fries your retinas. How long before normal vision fully returns after such a toasting? Too long.

We suggest asking your tow pilot to always turn away from the sun after a westward launch late in the day, conditions permitting. And higher up as well, never turn toward a low sun on tow unless there’s no other choice.