Tugs, Tow Bars and Winches

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August 2013

When you take flying lessons, you learn the basics of moving an airplane on the ground. At first, you’ll help your instructor, then you’ll do the moving under his or her supervision.

If your trainer is kept on a tiedown, most of what’s involved is just taxiing but from time to time you’ll have to move the airplane without using the engine. Where modern trainers are concerned, this is just a matter of muscle power—attach the tow bar to the nosewheel, and push or pull on the prop, near the hub. Older tailwheel trainers are even easier—just lift the tailwheel (or skid) and push or pull as required.

As you graduate to bigger airplanes, though, more muscle power is needed. Most of us can comfortably move a small two- or four-place single, but it gets tougher as you move up to heavier airplanes. By the time you get to a six-place single or twin, forget it—especially if you have to push uphill!

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