Soft Release

I finally received my October Soaring magazine. Paul Moggah had a letter regarding the so-called “Soft Release” suggested for Schweizer gliders, especially the 2-33. It took me back in time to the 70s when we had 2-33s in our school fleet.

The 2-33 tow release had a problem. When operated, the release mechanism would bang up against the internal structure, causing damage to the glider’s structure, which consisted of a cluster of tubing. Repeated banging would cause structural failure of these tubes and the welded joint.

Schweizer installed a friction device to help absorb the shock, but then it was very difficult to pull the arm down to connect another tow rope.

We had the same problems, and solved the issue by simply placing a small block of rubber up inside the tow release. The arm would bang against the rubber, eliminating the problem. The worst thing that could occur was for the rubber to fall out, and we simply replaced the rubber block.

After some considerable time, the “soft release” was invented. The idea was for the glider pilot to pull back on the stick to make the glider climb slightly, then dive to allow a little slack to form in the tow rope, then pull the release. With no stress on the tow rope, there was no “bang” and no damage.

Paul’s observation is that pilots trained in Schweizer 2-33s carry this training (law of primacy) to other gliders, and the soft release practice is not only unnecessary, but potentially hazardous.

He is correct, of course.

So, if you fly a Schweizer glider, abandon the soft release, and find an old shoe to cut a small block of rubber.