Donald MacKenzie is the chief tug pilot and driving lorce behind the Malvem Aerotow Club (MAC).
The group operated a Pagasus XL from Detford airfield which, whilst arguably the best available and allowable
machine, suffers from being an elderly design and a speed envelope that puts its slowest safe speed above the
optimum speed for a glider on the tow. Furthermore its modest climb rate limits its turn-round time and increases the time on tow.
Donald long felt that we could do better a but was faced with the lack of a viable commercially available alternative. The introduction of the SSDFl category held out the possibility of introducing a new design with significant safety improvements but the regulatory regime precluded the use of SSDFls for towing and so there was no incentive for a manufacturer to develop such a machine.
Starting in 2014 Donald set out to tackle both the design and regulatory obstacles. He inspired, drove the progress and personally funded the development of a wholly new design of tug with the help Ben Ashman, Paul Dewhurst and Aeros gliders At the same time Donald set on the daunting task of persuading the CAA to allow the use of the machine for towing.
Now in action for over a year with the blessing of the authorities the resultant tug ~the Foxcub- has been a triumph and transformed the operation of the MAC making towing safer for both tug pilot and HG pilot, more enjoyable and faster with its impressive performance combining a climb rate of over 1000FPM with a tow speed more suited to both flex and rigid wing HG operation.
Donald’s single handed determination opens up a new and better era of HG towing and it now looks as though other tow groups will follow suit with the Foxcub design which itself, through making the whole process less daunting, already appears to be reviving interest in towing generally and the the whole HG tow community owes a debt of thanks to Donald.