Airborne wind energy is an emerging technology that uses tethered unmanned aerial vehicles for harvesting wind energy at altitudes higher than conventional towered wind turbines. To make the technology competitive to other renewable energy technologies a reliable control system is required that allows autonomously operating the system throughout all phases of flight. In the present work a cascaded nonlinear control scheme for reliable pumping cycle control of a rigid wing airborne wind energy system is proposed. The high-level control strategy in the form of a state machine as well as the flight controller consisting of path-following guidance and control, attitude, and rate loop is presented along with a winch controller for tether force tracking. A mathematical model for an existing prototype will be derived, and results from a simulation study will be used to demonstrate the robustness of the proposed concept in the presence of turbulence and wind gusts.