All conventional gliding schools use the Munster Van Gelder winch to launch their aircraft. Cables are pulled from the winch across the airfield, and are then attached to the aircraft. After having taken any slack from the cable by pulling it in slowly, the winch will increase power considerably to pull the aircraft through the air to launch it. The Viking will achieve speeds of between 55-60 knots during launch.
Aircraft will normally achieve heights of around 1000ft from a winch launch at 615, but in favourable conditions have been known to reach 1600ft.
Winching is normally done by more junior members of staff, but all grades must stay current with winching operations. Winch driver training is usually given to new staff soon after they join and students will be trained in all weather conditions and emergency procedures. They will undertake a considerable amount of practice dual winching until competent to take the winch drivers test.
Signals are given to the winch a light mounted on a mast on the launch point control caravan. A radio is also used to communicate with the launch point.
Landrovers are used widely in gliding squadron operations. Their tasks include retrieving gliders from their landing roll, towing the launch point control caravan, and also for cadet and staff transport both on the airfield and off.
The launch point is the busiest place on the airfield during operations. Aircraft may be launching, landing, or retrieving, making it necessary for there to be a high level of supervision from the launch point marshall, and also from the Duty Instructor who is in overall charge of the airfield.
The caravan serves a number of purposes in gliding school operations. Most importantly, it is where the Duty Instructor (DI) sits and runs the airfield operations. The DI will sit at the top of the caravan, which is raised to give a good view, and is responsible for achieving the daily task, whilst ensuring all protocols are followed by everyone on the airfield.
The back of the caravan may be used by instructors to brief students before a sortie or as a shelter during times of bad weather.
The tractor is used to tow the MVG Winch as the Defender Landrovers are too light to safely move it. It is also used to tow cables from the winch to the launch point.