ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Launch an RC Glider

Updated on September 17, 2011

I love flying Radio Control Gliders with my son. We go out to the local field and fling them into the air and guide their descent until they land at our feet.

I prefer the two channel gliders (rudder and elevator) as it is easy for my son to control. Heck, it's easy for me too! The three channel gliders are fun too, but certainly more challenging with the ailerons.

We are limited in how high we can fling the gliders and were looking for some alternatives to get some extra height and longer flight times. Listed below are the various options we found.

At the end of the day, the simplicity of the discus launch is my favorite (and it is a pretty good workout!)

Discus Launch

This is my favorite launching technique by far! Frankly, it is just a lot of fun!

A Discus Launch Glider is specially designed with a throwing peg built into the wing. It is easy to grab between your pointer and middle fingers and gives you great control as you spin around.

To be fair, you don't need to be a superstar athlete to launch it high. I have seen plenty of folks just swing it with a good sidearm throw (without spinning around) and get it up pretty high.

Of course, the skill in flying the glider is the most important factor. A good pilot can overcome a bad throw, but a bad pilot can't take advantage of a good throw!

The peg is used for good control during the launch
The peg is used for good control during the launch

A Hi Start is a bungee launch system with approximately 100' of bungee and 400' of light line attached to it.

An Up Start is similar, but with 50' of tubing and 150' of light line attached to it.

A Zip Start is best for smaller gliders. It uses about 10' of tubing and 25' of line. It will give about the same height as a really good hand launch (with a lot less effort!)

Bungee Launch

How much fun is this? The concept is simple. Drive a peg into the ground and pullback on a bungee cord to build the energy to launch your glider high into the air.

The RC airplane should have a backwards-facing hook secured to the fuselage. There is no servo or other electromechanical system attached.

The bungee cord can vary in length, but should always have a light line securely attached to the end of it. The light line will be terminated with a simple ring that slips on the backwards-facing hook on the plane. Most RC pilots also attach a rag to the line, about two feet away from the hook. The rag not only creates a bit of extra drag in the air which helps the ring slip off the hook at its terminus, but it also makes it easier to find and pick up when it falls back to the ground.

Note: The most common question when using this system is how to tell how hard to pull the cord back. The answer is to pull it back to about five or six times the weight of your model. If you have a 1lb model, pull back the cord until you have about five or six pounds of pressure. Use a fish scale to calibrate your pull-back.

Always take off AND land into the wind! Controlling the glider is a lot easier.

Overhand Throw

This is easy and fun. It works great for an RC glider that has a motor and a collapsible propeller. With an unpowered model, a simple overhand throw may not give you the height you need for an enjoyable flight.

There are exceptions, though. Slope gliding and gliding in a windy environment are the primary times when hand launching an unpowered glider will work well. Typically, slope gliding on a hill takes advantage of thermals and upwards air movement. A hand launch over the side of the hill is all it takes for the glider to find some favorable air and gain lift.

Launching into a stiff breeze with a larger glider will also provide lift and allow your plane to gain some altitude. Smaller gliders just won't do that good in the wind, so be careful if you haven't attempted this before.

When launching a glider, make sure to use a little up elevator to give your model some height during the launching phase. Use too much elevator and it can impede the momentum of the plane.

Forces Acting on a RC Glider
Forces Acting on a RC Glider

Winch Launch

If a bungee launch is good, a high-powered winch attached to a motor can only be better, right? As Tim Allen would say "More Power! Ah, ah, ah!"

This system is pretty straightforward and can be cobbled together with virtually any motor. Our local RC flying club uses a riding lawnmower motor, but it really doesn't matter.

This system works when the motor engages a winch which wraps the launch line around a cylinder extremely quickly. This pulls the model through the air until it reaches its maximum height and the slip ring falls from the hook on the plane.

I don't like this system as much as others. I don't use a motor on my glider because I enjoy the peaceful flights, so why would I want a loud motor pulling models into the air? It's just not for me.


This technique is flat out FUN! Grab a buddy and have him tow your glider into the air using his RC plane. Once it reaches altitude, activate a servo to release the towline and your glider is free to fly.

Make sure you are standing right next to your friend who is flying the tow plane. Good communication is key. Don't think that you can sit back catch a free ride though. You will need to keep the glider in a straight line behind the tow plane. Try not to make any severe movements as it can make the tow less efficient.

Tip: Watch very carefully for any slack in the line. This will most often occur during turns. A slack line can become fouled in the planes or cause damage if it retightens too fast. It is much better to release the glider prematurely to avoid a potentially expensive situation!

Piggyback Launch

I have never seen this one in action and it makes me a bit nervous. You'll need a friend with an RC plane that is much bigger than your glider. The glider affixes to the back of the plane and is released by activating a servo when it gets to the desired height.

I know they used it for the space shuttle, but I keep envisioning the glider being released and falling back to damage the plane's rudder.

If you have used this successfully, please leave a comment below. I would like to hear about your experiences.

Just Like the Space Shuttle on a 747!
Just Like the Space Shuttle on a 747!


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)