Where's The Pilot?


Malko In Charge
Staff member
Where\'s The Pilot?

Isn't there some regulation saying a pilot should be at the controls when hand starting an a/c? Ooops.

NTSB Identification: ATL04LA074
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, February 07, 2004 in Summerville, SC
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-161, registration: N21266
Injuries: 1 Minor.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

On February 7, 2004, at 1245 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-28-161, N21266, registered to and operated by a private owner, taxied unmanned into a parked airplane at Summerville Airport, Summerville, South Carolina. The personal flight was operated under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91 with no flight plan filed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The private pilot received minor injuries, and the airplane and a parked airplane sustained substantial damage. The flight was originating from Summerville, South Carolina, at the time of the accident.

The pilot was preparing for a flight to Columbia, South Carolina, to deliver the airplane for avionics maintenance. The pilot stated that when he engaged the starter, it made a spinning noise, and the airplane would not start. The pilot set the parking brake and attempted to start the airplane by rotating the propeller by hand. The airplane started and moved forward, and the pilot climbed up on the wing to enter the cockpit but slipped and fell to the ground. The pilot grabbed onto the outside of the airplane and was dragged as he attempted to gain access to the cockpit. The pilot let go of the airplane as soon as he realized a collision was imminent, and the airplane taxied unmanned and collided with a parked airplane.

Examination of the airplane revealed damage to the right wing spar and propeller, and the parked airplane sustained damage to the fuselage and left wing.

Stone Cold

Well-Known Member
Re: Where\'s The Pilot?

I have a similar, but scary story about a guy I gave a BFR to a while back. According to the story, he tried to hand-prop by himself also. He owns a 152 and the airplane wouldn't start. So, he goes out and tries to hand-prop. The airplane starts and takes off on him. He loses his balance and ends up having the prop chop off his kneecap. Nobody at the airport saw this happen, so when the ambulance came up, nobody had any clue what was going on. The guy had called 911 on his cell phone. Lucky to have his cell on him, I guess.

He did fine on his BFR; I had no idea about the incident until after the review, so I didn't get to lecture him any more on hand-propping. It's very scary what some people will do out there.

If you're a CFI out there, make sure you find out as much as humanly possible about individuals before your name goes into their logbooks. This is one signature I now feel uncomfortable about. I'm glad I keep good records.


Well-Known Member
Re: Where\'s The Pilot?

I have another story unrelated to single-person hand propping, but just as idiotic. Working on the line at the FBO, this lady that is a regular was renting the Warrior to make an out of state trip. She was out there about .5 hour and came back in saying it wouldnt start. She had flooded the aircraft, so one of the instructors offered to go out and try to get it started so she could go on her trip. It took him about ten minutes, but it finally started and can you believe what she asked me?

"Does he want me to go out there and chock it so he doesnt have to sit in it?" (while it warmed up)

I didnt really ask because I didnt want to know, but I think you could infer that she was asking about chocking the aircraft, while it was running, with no one in it. I could hardly believe she said that.