Luscombe escapes during hand propping

This February 2010 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.

Aircraft: Bellanca 7ECA, Luscombe. Injuries: None. Location: Canon, Ga. Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot of the Bellanca was sitting in the cockpit of his airplane with the engine running. He heard an engine rev and looked to the left to see an unoccupied Luscombe taxiing toward him.

The Bellanca pilot applied full throttle but wasn’t able to get out of the path of the runaway airplane. The propeller of the Luscombe hit the Bellanca’s left wing. The Bellanca sustained substantial damage. There was minor damage to the Luscombe’s propeller and engine cowling.

The pilot of the Luscombe was a private pilot with 881 hours, including 238 in the Luscombe. He told investigators that he had chocked the wheels of his airplane and then hand-propped it to start the engine. The engine started at a high power setting, and the airplane jumped the chocks.

Review of the FAA Airplane Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-3A) revealed, “An engine should not be hand propped unless two people, both familiar with the airplane and hand propping techniques, are available to perform the procedure. The person pulling the propeller blades through directs all activity and is in charge of the procedure. The other person, thoroughly familiar with the controls, must be seated in the airplane with the brakes set. The procedure should never be attempted alone.”

Probable cause: The Luscombe pilot’s improper engine starting procedures.

For more information: NTSB Identification: ERA10LA139


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  1. Rod Beck says

    Several local pilots interviewed after the incident believed, “Timmy”, age 3, the pilots son, may have been at the “controls” and out of the view by the witness – who said to young to fly!

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