The auto tow launching mechanism was designed by Ray Jamieson of Cobram in the north of Victoria. The prototype was built the for the Corowa Gliding Club where it was used for some years. After Ray’s brother, Bert Jamieson, had witnessed the machine in use at Corowa, at Bert’s request, Ray built second one (the Museum’s exhibit) for use at Bacchus Marsh airfield. Bert lived in Melbourne at the time and was a member of the Victorian Motorless Flight Group (VMFG) which used Bacchus Marsh airfield. This occurred in the 1970s.
The method of operation was to have the auto tow mechanism mounted in the back of a utility motor vehicle. The launching cable was attached to the glider. With the Volkswagen engine of the mechanism running, the tow vehicle would then drive along the runway to commence the launch. The mechanism would automatically apply brake pressure to the cable drum as the vehicle proceeded freely letting out the cable and then smoothly towing the glider into the air. When the launching cable reached a certain angle, the pilot would release the cable from the glider at which point the winching mechanism would automatically retrieve the cable in preparation for the next launch. This allowed quicker restarts and the flexibility of easily changing runways to suit the wind conditions. It made gliding a simple and cost-effective operation. Ray Jamieson and his son often used the prototype which they named “George” at Corowa in this way.
With the exception of several demonstration launches, the Museum’s example of this type of device was not used by the VMFG at Bacchus Marsh due to rulings by the Department of Civil Aviation encouraging the use of aero tow launching at their site.
As far as is known this is the only device of its type in the world and is indicative of the ingenuity found amongst the Australian gliding fraternity.
Single drum and motorized drive mechanism mounted on a mobile steel frame.