19. Single Pilot Towplane/Sailplane#

This Fly Screen lets you fly a sailplane on tow – aerotowing. Select the airplane to be towed, e.g. a sailplane, and also select the towplane (a recorded flight) that will tow your airplane aloft. In Options | Towlines you make your towline selection (it is not automatically selected). For two pilots, see the separate chapter: Two Pilot Towplane/Sailplane.

19.1. Flying the Sailplane#

To reach this window, go the the Main Menu and click on Towplane/Sailplane under the Single Pilot heading. In the dialog that appears, click on Sailplane, and then click Ok. When you’re ready to fly after you’ve made your selections, at bottom left click Fly.

Image of the Fly Screen: Single Pilot Sailplane on Tow

Fly Screen: Single Pilot Sailplane on Tow#

Sailplane Selection

  • Click on the lower “Sailplane” picture (or click at top left on Aircraft 1).

  • Then, scroll to find the airplane that you want to fly. You can select any airplane, i.e. it is not required to be a sailplane.

Towplane Recorded Flight Selection

  • Click on the upper “Towplane” picture (or click at top left on Towplane).

  • Choose a prerecorded flight path for the towplane. e.g. [FlyingSite]-Pawnee where “FlyingSite” in the name is the name of the flying site, such as Frasca Airport.

Image of selecting pawnee towplane recording.
  • Instead of clicking on the aircraft picture, you can click on the silhouetted Data File transmitter and get the same recording list for selecting your towplane flight.

Image of alternate way to select recording.


You can pre-record your own flight and use it as the towplane flight. The name you give it will appear in the recordings list.

Flying Site, Sun/Sky, and Wind Selections

  • Choose the site that matches the towplane recording.

  • Make your selections for the Flying Site, Sun/Sky, and Wind settings.

  • At right, click on the picture.

  • Or, click on the corresponding item in the menu.

Screen Settings Selection

  • To always see both the towplane and the sailplane at once while flying, click on Use Split Screen.

  • To change between horizontal and vertical split screen, click at top on Options where you can make your Split Screen Format selection (see Options | Video).

  • A sample view is shown below. Horizontal Split is selected in Options, and Use Split Screen is selected from the Fly Screen.

Image of the Startup view with selections for horizontal split screen. The top screen looks at your Sailplane and the bottom screen looks at the Towplane (Datafile).

Startup view with selections for horizontal split screen.
The top screen looks at your Sailplane and the bottom screen looks at the Towplane (Datafile).

Towline Selection

Before starting your flight session, make sure that you have selected a properly sized towline. Typically, you should select a towline with a weight recommendation that brackets the lighter of the towplane or the towed airplane. In the list, each choice mentions its weight rating. For details on towline settings, see Options | Towlines

Image of the Towline selection appropriate for 14-lb sailplane.

Towline selection appropriate for 14-lb sailplane.#

Example Flying Scenario

  • At bottom left, click on Fly.

  • A convenient view is F9 which will padlock from your sailplane onto the towplane.

  • The towplane will wiggle its rudder to indicate that it is going to begin the takeoff roll.

  • Sometimes it is useful to deploy the sailplane spoilers slightly (if equipped). The spoilers generate drag and it helps keep tension on the line.

  • Press H for the HUD to see your rate of climb (FPM, ft/min).

  • Press Backspace for the Flight Recorder Playback Tool to see the recording progress through time.

  • Press M for the Map M to see your position during the flight. The map will not show the towplane.

  • The towplane will follow the prerecorded path of the Data File. Because it is a recording, the towplane does not respond to changes in the towline line tension. The towplane will follow its track no matter how you fly the sailplane.

  • When the towplane finishes climbing and is about to dive away, it will rock its wings. At that point, press Insert to release the towline and start gliding. Of course, you can release the towline at any point in the flight (or not at all).

  • To reset the sailplane, towplane, and towline at any time, press the Spacebar .


The Shift key which is used for Pilot 2 controls does not work in this setup (flying the sailplane). This setup is for single pilot aerotowing and the second airplane (towplane) is being driven by a data file, i.e. it is not a second pilot.

19.2. Flying the Towplane#

Alternatively, you can fly the towplane and tow an airplane aloft. A sample selection setup is shown below. In this case, the airplane being towed is actually not a recording (you cannot select a recorded airplane to be towed). Instead, the simulator calculates the physics for both airplanes. If the airplane being towed is a stable airplane (like the Alpha 40 trainer), then you can tow it successfully. However, if the airplane is not inherently stable, then it can veer off and towing may not be successful. The towline is affected by both airplanes. In other words, both airplanes react to the line tension.

With this setup, there is literally a second pilot. Thus, the Shift key will apply to the second aircraft (the aircraft being towed).

How to Release the Towline

Per mention, the airplane being towed is literally Pilot 2. Thus, to release the towline from the Pilot 2 aircraft (sailplane), you must use the Shift modifier key (Pilot 2 Control key) and press Insert to release the towline on the sailplane, i.e. Shift Insert . At any time, you can also release the towline from the towplane. Since the towplane is Pilot 1, simply press Insert .

How to Reset Each Airplane

If the airplane being towed (the sailplane) crashes, then upon reset with Spacebar , the crashed airplane will be put on the towline in a crashed state (e.g. no wings) and only the Pilot 1 aircraft will be reset completely. To reset the sailplane, again use the modifier key. Press Shift Spacebar . The sailplane will then be reset on the line and ready for another flight. Yes, it is a little tricky, but logical and it follows the rules.


Both airplanes have cameras attached to the camera keys F1 through F12 . To switch from your airplane to the airplane being towed, press Tab . Now the camera keys will apply to the second airplane. If you press Tab again, you will switch from the airplane being towed to the next object which is the towline. Now the camera keys will control views about a point centered on the towline. Pressing Tab again will put you back on the towplane. You can see this working by simply cycling the Tab key and the F1 view which cycle through the three objects: towplane, plane being towed, towline center point, and then repeats. As you do this, notice the names of the cameras on-screen.

Physics Calculations for Two Airplanes

Because this setup must calculate the physics of both airplanes, the simulator may run more slowly on your computer. If your computer is powerful enough, you will not notice any difference vs flying with only one airplane physics calculation.

Image of the Fly Screen: Single Pilot Towplane Towing a Sailplane

Fly Screen: Single Pilot Towplane Towing a Sailplane#

Towplane Tx Message: “Not Calibrated” is a Bug

If you are the towplane and make selections on the Single Pilot Towplane screen, sometimes the towplane transmitter may falsely indicate “Not Calibrated.” If you did calibrate before, click on the towplane Tx or airplane and then back to the Single Pilot Towplane page. The status message may then go away. (The message in error occurs after selecting the airplane to be towed.)