Flying Without Washout Tips – and other alternate configurations

From time to time we become aware that some pilots are flying our gliders in non-standard configurations, such was with the washout tips removed, or the bridles disconnected. Sometimes, it is instructors that have their students do this, because they feel it makes certain things easier for the student.

This is not safe, and should not be done.

The washout tips and bridles are important not just for longitudinal stability (pitch stability at low angles of attack) but also have a significant influence on the launch characteristics and lateral stability and control dynamics that could be factors for safety even at low altitudes.

We recognize that removing bridles and washout tips can make some aspects of ground handling, launching and flying easier for some pilots under some circumstances. However, like everything else we put on the glider, they are there for good reasons, and should be considered an integral part of the aircraft, and should be used at all times. The airworthiness of all of our gliders is established by extensive flight and vehicle testing, however all of this testing is done only with the glider configured completely in the way in which it was designed. Therefore, any glider not so configured has not been tested in any way, and can only be considered an experimental aircraft of completely indeterminate airworthiness. While flying a glider in the configuration in which it has been designed and tested may present some additional challenges to student pilots, these are challenges they will need to overcome if they are to become pilots, and students should not be taught, or given the impression, that some integral parts of the aircraft are in some sense optional.