Nordic Static Line Towing

Antti Nummelin in Nordic Static Line Towing...

Here in Finland static line towing is very popular. It has been perfected over the years and is an integral part of hang- and paragliding instruction. To us, it is somewhat surprising to see other people using winches and other expensive and slow methods to get a glider up.

Here in Finland we have very few footlaunch hills (practically all hills are forested) and have tried all kind of winches, ultratowing and other possible ways to tow a glider. Ultra towing is absolutely the best, provided you have the money to spend, and the nerves to wait for your turn.

Nordic Static Line towing, needs an investment of less than 1000 $ (for your club) and enables towing of at least 15 gliders (hang/para) per hour up to at least 400 meters (1500 feet). Breakdowns and maintenance are minimal. The towing vehicle may breakdown (when an old cars is used....) but is easily changed (in 2 minutes), and of course the rope may break (continuing it takes 5 minutes). For various reasons one does not want to use very strong lines.

The Nordic Static Line Towing system has:

The launch is easy. At the "Start"-order (possibly mediated by a launch assistant with a radio or flag) the car will accelerate. Note that due to the pulley the car drives towards the launch and the driver will see what happens to the glider. The rope will stretch up to 100 meters, which makes for a gentle start. After 2-10 meters running airspeed will be sufficient. Initially pull in somewhat for spare speed, so that when the rope breaks at this early stage, you won't stall very deep. The driver reads the tension gauge mounted on the dashboard or windscreen of the car and maintains a constant pull by varying the car speed (0-50 km/h depending on winds and thermals). Typical towing forces are: hang-glider 1000 Newton, tandem 1200 N, paraglider 700N.

At the end of the line, at approx. 5 meters from the end, a second line is attached. This second line is about 4 meters long. The shorter line attaches to the releaser directly, over the speedbar. The longer line is lead under the speedbar and then attached to the releaser. Initially the glider is pulled by the upper, shorter line. When the line starts pushing down on the speedbar, the shorter line is released, and towing continues with the other line that is under your speedbar. This lower rope is released when you fly straight above the pulley or when hitting a thermal.

Meanwhile the car has been driving toward the launch and upon final release will be approx. halfway between the launch and the pulley. After final release the car quickly continues to the launch while still pulling the line. The next glider now connects to the rope end that came with the towing car, while the car drives back towards the pulley where the other rope end waits... And if you are in a hurry, you can use another towing car, which is ready to start towing when the other rope end is at launch.

This towing method is good, when you have at least 2 people (1 gliding, 1 towing), and less than 25 gliders. With more gliders more ropes are may be needed. Provided good instruction, NSL-towing is a simple and safe way to get high.

Last updated 5.2.1996 by Robert J. Aarts (Safe Pro 2).

This page is based on a document written by Mikko Liukkula (Safe Pro 5, Para Pro 2, Tandempilot, Instructor) and Jyrki Penttilä (Safe Pro 4, Co-Instructor)