Flight Training - November 2014 - 24

FLIGHT LESSON

By Rudy Luo
FLIGHT LESSON offers the
opportunity for pilots to learn
from the experiences of others.

RUNAWAY SKYHAWK

A HAND-PROPPING GONE BAD

T

here's a Chinese saying: "An upper class learns lessons from
other people's mistakes; a middle class learns from his own
mistakes; the lower class can't even learn his own mistakes."
That's why I go to aviation safety seminars: to listen and
learn. But I must admit, like a cliché in the seminar, I often thought,
I will never make that kind of stupid decision or mistake.
It was a beautiful summer day in June.
I was about to fly to Martha's Vineyard
to meet two other flying buddies from
Long Island. I had delayed the meet-up
time by a half-hour. That's the beginning:
get-there-it-is.
I already knew there could be another
on-and-off issue: I might not be able
to start the engine on the 1970 Cessna
172L that I had owned for several years.

After preflight, I couldn't start the
engine. Usually, I would ask my FBO guys
to sit in the pilot seat and apply the brake
for me. But I hadn't seen anybody that
day. I asked my passenger to help me,
even though I knew he wasn't a pilot. He
had been in various small airplanes a few
times. He gladly agreed to help.
I had been told many times that manual
prop start is dangerous, and my under-

THINGS TURNED SCARY AFTER I HAD
SUCCESSFULLY HAND-PROPPED THE ENGINE.
I HAD PUT IN ONLY A LITTLE BIT OF THROTTLE,
BUT THE AIRPLANE BEGAN MOVING FORWARD.

24 /

FLIGHTTRAINING.AOPA.ORG

standing was the risk was limited to the
person who did the hand-prop. I told
myself to be careful and everything would
be fine. As a lifetime marathoner, I'm
pretty fit, nimble, and quick. When did my
pride suddenly become arrogance?
Things turned scary after I successfully hand-propped the engine. I had
put in only a little bit of throttle, but the

ALEX WILLIAMSON

The previous weekend I had flown to
four different airports in upstate New
York, including two grass fields. I had to
manually start the engine at the second
airport. I figured four out of five is not
too bad. The worst case was I would have
to hand-prop, which would not be a big
deal. The mechanic was able to start it
every time he tried, anyway.

airplane began moving forward. I tried to
chase it, but it just went a little faster, and
I kept yelling "apply the brake." There
was some miscommunication, and the
passenger probably did all the wrong
things he could. The airplane turned
left and went onto a ramp between two
rows of aircraft, then turned left again
and hit a Bonanza, which in turn hit
two other airplanes. In the end, it was
about $150,000 to $200,000 in property damage, but no one was injured, no
explosion, and no engine oil or gas leaking. That's the only silver lining.
Looking back, after being interviewed
by FAA, I had never received formal
training in hand-propping. I had limited
experience and learned by watching others. I had no idea why I was so careless
this time, which was pretty uncharacteristic of me. I am a longtime motorcycle
rider and was always safety conscious.
Things always look clearer afterwards,
and may look so obvious-and make me
look so dumb. Despite seeing no soul
around, I could have helped myself by
applying the parking brake, by tying
down the aircraft, and by using chocks
instead of trusting a nonpilot friend.
Another lesson learned from this incident is the need to teach my passengers
some basic things, such as the operation of the throttle, brakes, and others.
Communicate clearly to make sure they
understand. Take some back-up measures, in case things go wrong. I thought
a lot about it afterwards, and realized
again the responsibility that a pilot
has-not only to himself but also to other
people, in or out of the airplane. Flying is
fun, but safety is not a funny matter.


http://FLIGHTTRAINING.AOPA.ORG

Flight Training - November 2014

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Flight Training - November 2014

Contents
Flight Training - November 2014 - Cover1
Flight Training - November 2014 - Cover2
Flight Training - November 2014 - Contents
Flight Training - November 2014 - 2
Flight Training - November 2014 - 3
Flight Training - November 2014 - 4
Flight Training - November 2014 - 5
Flight Training - November 2014 - 6
Flight Training - November 2014 - 7
Flight Training - November 2014 - 8
Flight Training - November 2014 - 9
Flight Training - November 2014 - 10
Flight Training - November 2014 - 11
Flight Training - November 2014 - 12
Flight Training - November 2014 - 13
Flight Training - November 2014 - 14
Flight Training - November 2014 - 15
Flight Training - November 2014 - 16
Flight Training - November 2014 - 17
Flight Training - November 2014 - 18
Flight Training - November 2014 - 19
Flight Training - November 2014 - 20
Flight Training - November 2014 - 21
Flight Training - November 2014 - 22
Flight Training - November 2014 - 23
Flight Training - November 2014 - 24
Flight Training - November 2014 - 25
Flight Training - November 2014 - 26
Flight Training - November 2014 - 27
Flight Training - November 2014 - 28
Flight Training - November 2014 - 29
Flight Training - November 2014 - 30
Flight Training - November 2014 - 31
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Flight Training - November 2014 - 33
Flight Training - November 2014 - 34
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Flight Training - November 2014 - 36
Flight Training - November 2014 - 37
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Flight Training - November 2014 - 39
Flight Training - November 2014 - 40
Flight Training - November 2014 - 41
Flight Training - November 2014 - 42
Flight Training - November 2014 - 43
Flight Training - November 2014 - 44
Flight Training - November 2014 - 45
Flight Training - November 2014 - 46
Flight Training - November 2014 - 47
Flight Training - November 2014 - 48
Flight Training - November 2014 - 49
Flight Training - November 2014 - 50
Flight Training - November 2014 - 51
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Flight Training - November 2014 - 53
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Flight Training - November 2014 - 55
Flight Training - November 2014 - 56
Flight Training - November 2014 - Cover3
Flight Training - November 2014 - Cover4
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