Several months ago I wrote an article about tow pilot incidents and accidents and then followed that up with a rather chilling first hand account of a tow pilot who could not get the release to operate when a glider got too high behind him and did not release.  Since those two articles I have received comments from several people and have been told of similar incidents occurring.  The last story being about a tow pilot in Florida who could not release when the glider behind him got too high.


Thus, in this month’s column I am asking for your help.  I, not as the writer of this column, but as the Chairman of the SSA, would very much like to know the magnitude of this problem, i.e. incidents where tow pilots have not been able to successfully operate the tow release when a sailplane has gotten too high.  Is this a big problem that needs immediate attention or is it the case of just several incidents occurring in a short period of time?  The SSA and the SSF can certainly get information from the FAA about actual accidents and reported incidents.  However, both the incident in Jonesboro and now the one in Florida were not and did not need to be reported to the FAA. 


You can help me address this issue.  If you know or have even heard of a situation in the past ten years where a tow pilot has tried to release a glider and could not please give me as much information as you can.  Also, just to make sure we have a record of actual accidents involving tow planes please share with me any information you may know about them as well.  I, in turn, will look into each reported event and summarize this information.  I will then share it with you in this column (without names of those involved or those who reported the incident).   Additionally, this summary will be shared with those who may be able to lead us to a successful solution to this problem if indeed it is a problem.


You may e-mail me at or write to me at Bermuda High Soaring, P.O. Box 1510, Lancaster, SC 29721.


Thanks for your help.


Fly Safely and Have FUN!


Frank Reid