Towing the newbies with an electric winch

While waiting for the SP-140 I have been using a different electric motor😁 to train my students.
I hope you will enjoy this vid from last weekend. This time, I did a first with another electric device. Had this in mind for a few months, and it worked great. Because of it we tripled the numbers of tows we were making before that on the same fields.


Wonderful setup, Phil! I love the way you think! :wink:

I would love to buy this type of winch. Can you send a link please! Winch model , price supplier if possible.
Thank you
Eugene in Ireland.

Hi Eugene, please send me a mail at and I will give you the details.



Thanks Phil. Will do.

Nice. It’s like a hyper-simplified version of what they tried to do with the Skynch.

Does anybody have more details? Could we create an open source, lower cost version? The winch seems a bit expensive at around $5,000-7,000 (different versions) at

That’s before battery and rope (battery 72V, 1.3km dyneema rope (~2.5mm?) are also available in the shop with prices that seem more attractive to me).

The smallest one they have is 6kW and similar to the $1,000 ebike wheel at - with controller etc, but no wireless remote and antenna obviously. I am familiar with ebikes but not winches, not sure how “payout” works with stationary winch and there seems to be some adjustable tensioning system involved. More info: eWinch Design - Miami Paragliding

I really respect the maker of this device and it seems well thought out. I was just wondering how much power my ebike would need to tow a paraglider a few feet above the ground in still air (yes, I know, terrible idea) and then I looked at this winch and noticed they use an ebike hub motor too (at least in the cheapest version), basically with a metal spool instead of spokes. Of course most ebikes are around 500W, this is more like e-MTB or e-motorcycle.

Any thoughts?

There is a lot more to it than what you describe. You need to constantly know the line tension base on the pulling force because of the gust factor and an increase in angle of attack in dynamic wind or if the glider catches a thermal or exits it, etc… even without a radio controlled system it will requires a ton of knowledge on the tow operator’s end and reason why the USHPA has a special tow operator certification rating. If you do not know what you are looking at and send a wing into a lockout, you could kill the pilot especially close go the ground (less than 500’).

1 Like

Thank you for the comments! I am interested in the hardware only, for self-towing in zero wind, I saw your another video SELF TOWING - YouTube and those short hops are exactly what I was aiming for (minus the wind), but I understand you’re an instructor. Would you say it’s not meant for self-launching amateur pilots (P2)? I’m stuck in flat central NC and looking for ways to practice (other than ground handling) and this thing seems simpler than PPG, even electric, albeit almost as expensive.

I personally don’t like like the idea of towing especially for training. This is because it can very quickly get dangerous or even deadly in a matter of seconds. If I were on your position, I would just save the money for an electric paramotor.

1 Like

Towing is especially great for learning to paraglide if the tow operator is qualified to do so. I have been towing paraglider pilots for almost thirty years and have pulled up pilots thousands of time over the decades and never had a problem because I was trained properly. I also designed a bunch of towing systems over time from gas to using the car’s wheel differential, to electric winches. Take a look a few winches I used over time - the last one was used for twenty seasons non-stop and never failed me. I had to get rid of it because the new vehicles started to be equipped with the ABS system which screwed up the spinning of one wheel only as the other was trying to catch up with it, and the wheels/tires became wider over time and could not fit the rollers, so I moved and adapted to newer designs.
Towing can be dangerous if the operator does not know his head from his toes. Need to be an advanced pilot, understand the weather, what a paragliding wing does under any circumstance, understand what an acceleration can do to a wing, how to correct line tension, give the proper orders to the pilot for correct steering, give a thorough debrief before launch, practice tow line release on the ground, tell the pilot what to expect with the angle of attack during the inflation phase and takeoff when the angle of attack is highest, what to look for to keep the proper trajectory, how to grab the toggles to release the line after the line tension is slightly decreased, which way to turn first depending on the prevailing wind direction. The tow operator must also adjust the line tension based on pilot weight, glider size and rating. The tow operator must recognize when the wing enters a thermal and take the appropriate corrective measures, etc…
Perfectly safe if all is done by the book and the turnaround is way faster when multiple pilots are on the ground waiting to launch. Now, I use a fat tire electric bike to bring the tow line to the pilots for even more tows per day😄

Another of my winches (payout system with 6000’ of line).

Self-rewinding while the car drives back to the beginning of the tow field - 6000’ of line = payout system - able to give towing height over 3000’ AGL.


I would not recommend it for self-towing especially for beginner without a strong towing experience. There are boat towing operations in Florida you could contact if you want to experience high altitude flights.

Thank you Phil and Bob, I am glad I asked. Great community! I’m booking more flight lessons and practice sessions this fall and will finally pull the trigger on SP140 soon, instead of a winch.

Good move. What is your weight?

I’m 76kg, 86kg all in with my wing and harness.
Dudek V-King ES single skin “school version”, size 23:
They say it’s designed for hike and fly, but also for paramotoring.
And lightweight reversible backpack harness Woody Valley - Wani Light 2 | Eagle Paragliding

I would recommend getting the half hour battery since you seem to like lightweight gear. There is a big difference in weight between the one hour and half hour. But it is up to you.

Thanks! I did dismiss it initially, but I will reconsider. But I plan for two distinct configurations - light one, unpowered, for mountain hikes and airline travels, and I think I would be OK with a heavy one for local North Carolina flats. But I always end up getting extra batteries for my ebikes so I figure I can always order extra, the question is which ones. Is there consensus about that? I thought I’ve seen the heavy battery mentioned a lot more often. I am tall and fit so I should handle the load. I like the idea of electric takeoff and unpowered thermalling in the future but I don’t suppose it’s realistic? It seems people fly PPG on “cruise control” most of the time?

If you can handle the one hour pack then be it. In my case two half hours are better suited for my needs. Most PPG pilots will only fly 20 to 40mn before landing.
I am a beach pilot and walking on sand with a ton of bricks on my back to reach the launching spot is not my definition of fun😆 A half hour powered flight without natural lift is good enough or me and if I can catch ridge lift, the better. Everyone has different requirements.
Good luck!


Thanks again for the comments, I also found some comments about harness weight distribution issues with lighter pilots (<150lbs I think, I’m heavier but still) so I just ordered SP140 with the lighter battery. I must admit that when I fly a drone, 30 mins is indeed plenty, and I still want to keep an incentive to travel for free flight instead of relying on PPG.

Yes, lighter pilots such as myself 145/150lbs are at the limits of tilting backward too far on the current SP frame with the connection pulled rearward as far as possible and definitely will with the one hour battery besides having to lug the extra battery weight around. But it is just fine for the bigger/stronger pilots I guess.