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Towing is one of the three ways that a glider aircraft can be launched, the other two being self-launch (with an onboard engine), or stating from a slope as typically practiced by hanggliders.

There are two main towing types:

  • Ground-based towing, this includes
    • The widely practiced winch launch
    • Auto-tow, being towed by a driving car
    • Bungee launch, where the aircraft is accelerated using a flexible rope
  • Aircraft-based towing, usually called aero-tow, getting towed by another, motorized aircraft

Winch Launch

Note  Currently, there is no Multiplayer winch available for FlightGear, so the winch has to be controlled by the pilot of the towed aircraft. A simple scripted automation will in the future help to reduce the pilot's workload


1rightarrow.png See Howto:Do aerotow over the net for the main article about this subject.

Auto-tow and Bungee Launch

These methods are not yet possible in FlightGear. Contributors are very welcome, but please contact User:D-NXKT and User:D-ECHO to coordinate efforts.


In FlightGear, towing functionality is implemented:

  • In Nasal/towing/towing.nas
  • In YASim's code

A few aircraft have their own system implemented. Where there is no reason for this, these should be ported to use the global functionality.


Note  This is a proposed keymap under the effort to unify winch launch experience in FlightGear.


  • Easy to remember keys are necessary in order to allow the pilot to quickly act during the fast and during the training phase maybe hectic experience that a winch launch can be
  • Key commands should be grouped into sensible "categories", by using different actions on the same key (using modifiers like Shift, Ctrl)
  • I know of no aircraft that has separated cable release levers for the different hook, normally all hooks are connected to one handle.

Traditionally, w is used for winch-related activity while o and related keys are used for aerotow (as a is reserved for time speed-up/slow-down).


  • Use Ctrl-action for initialization/start
  • Use upper key ( Shift) to reduce speed, lower key to increase speed (only for winch launch)
Key Action
Ctrl+w Place winch and begin winch launch
Ctrl+o Connect to aerotow aircraft within range (MP or AI Scenario / Robot )
w Ask winch driver to increase winch speed
Shift+w Ask winch driver to reduce winch speed
o Release all cables ("yellow lever" in most glider aircraft)

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