Boxing the Wake
Boxing the wake is a training and performance maneuver designed to demonstrate a pilot’s ability to accurately maneuver the glider around the towplanes wake during aerotow. This maneuver is used by flight instructors to teach students how to find the towing aircraft wake; then, safely maneuver around the wake during the aerotow. [Figure 7-12]
Boxing the wake requires flying a rectangular pattern around the towplane’s wake and not the towplane. Prior to takeoff, the glider pilot should advise the tow pilot that he or she is planning to box the wake. Boxing the wake should commence outside of the traffic pattern area and at no lower than 1,000 feet AGL.
Before starting the maneuver, the glider should descend through the wake to the center low tow position as a signal to the tow pilot that the maneuver is about to begin. The pilot uses coordinated control inputs to move the glider level to one side of the wake and holds that lower corner of the rectangle momentarily with rudder pressure.
Applying back pressure to the control stick starts a vertical ascent using rudder pressure to maintain equal distance from the wake. The pilot holds the wings almost level with the ailerons to parallel the towplane. When the glider has attained high corner position, the pilot momentarily maintains this position.
As the maneuver continues, the pilot reduces the rudder pressure and uses coordinated flight controls to slightly bank the glider to fly along the top side of the box. The glider proceeds to the opposite corner using aileron and rudder pressure, as appropriate. The pilot maintains this position momentarily with rudder pressure, then begins a vertical descent by applying forward pressure to the control stick. Rudder pressure is used to maintain glider position at an equal distance from the wake.
The pilot holds the wings level with the ailerons to parallel the towplane. When the glider has attained low corner position, the pilot momentarily maintains this position. The pilot releases the rudder pressure and, using coordinated flight controls, slightly banks the glider to fly along the bottom side of the box until reaching the original center low tow position.
From center low tow position, the pilot maneuvers the glider through the wake to the center high tow position, completing the maneuver.
Common errors when boxing the wake include:
- Performing an excessively large rectangle around the wake. Figure 7-12 has exaggerated positions and is not to scale.
- Improper control coordination and procedure.
- Abrupt or rapid changes of position.
- Allowing or developing unnecessary slack during position changes.