Failure to use checklist bends airplane

Aircraft: American Champion Super Decathalon. Injuries: None. Location: Leesburg, Va. Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot went through the normal pre-flight inspection, then attempted to start the engine.

He told investigators that he set the mixture full on rich, fuel pump turned on for about three seconds, then off, mixture full off, put the throttle full open, and engaged the starter.

After the engine started the pilot pushed the mixture full on. The engine went to full power, and the airplane nosed down onto the taxiway, which resulted in the propeller striking the ground and the airplane’s firewall sustaining substantial damage.

The pilot stated that, after a review of the situation, it was apparent that he had not followed the starting checklist accurately in that the throttle should have been set to 1/2-inch open for starting instead of full open. He also stated that he should have placed his hand on the throttle immediately after the mixture control was pushed full on in order to retard the throttle after the engine started.

Probable cause: The pilot did not follow the engine start checklist.

NTSB Identification: ERA11CA488

This September 2011 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it isintended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.



  1. Mack says

    Maybe it was dependency on check lists that caused this accident.

    Licensed mechanics, don’t need a check list to start an engine.

    I’ve been flying 50 years, and never had a starting accident, if I used check lists, I probably would have killed someone by now!

    Some people need tele-prompters, and other people have actual brains, capable of thought and concepts.

  2. says

    Vaughn, Dan, Barry and Rudy, guys I am going to have to meet the person that taught you all to fly , must be the same person? The only Instructor that I know that good has the initials G.O.D. Give the poor guy a break, if he used the aeroplane checklist it would NOT have happened. I have over 25,000 hours in GA, mainly teaching, yep still love it, and all my students are not perfect, how can they be, you get a license to fly and then improve your skill, what they do after the issue of their licence an Instructor has no control over, you just hope and pray that they be safe. If you guys want to follow up, my personal email is. Would love to hear from you.

    • says

      Wayne, you are missing my point. A checklist would not have made a difference. This “pilot” did not have the basic concept of what the throttle does or what happens when you push it in all the way. The check list may say throttle at idle but if you don’t know what idle is or where it is (in/out) it will not help.

      The pilot did not miss checking the throttle. He had to push it full as it would not have been on full when the plane shutdown. Right? The checklist is not going to prevent this only instruction will.

  3. Vaughn S. Price says

    Barry Rickert has a grasp of the Head in the sand mentality of many accident investigators
    A check list is not a substitute for proper teaching by a so called flight instructor. My students Know how to start an aircraft engine on their demo lesson

  4. Dan Cerone says

    Why does every idiot think they can run off at the mouth and then end it with “just saying” as if that erases everything they have said?

    It started with the kids, but now those who think like children use it.

  5. says

    I am laughing so loud about this…
    Failure to use checklist? That is the headline here? Really it is about not using a checklist? G.U.M.P. would not have prevented this. The guy clearly did not know how to start an engine or…What was he smoking? Who starts a car with their foot full down on the gas? There has to be more here than not following a check list, are you kidding me? Where is common sense? Do you need a checklist for that too? In/Out which is full power, which is no power? If you are confused about that, should you be flying?

    Why is it that we cannot just say the truth, either this guy was just acting stupid – it happens or their was a failure to properly qualify this person to fly.

    ‘Gee I am sorry I dumped your plane, I just forgot to use the checklist…where can I get a Pepsi’ Who gave this guy his license? If I were the owner, I would be kicking my ass for handing over the keys. If I am the owner and depended upon a CFI to qualify this guy, I would be kicking his ass. (mentally of course)

    I feel very bad for the owner of this plane, whoever you are you have my deepest sympathies if you depended upon someone else to check out this guy. Please don’t tell me that this guy was the owner too, I have to stop laughing and go back to work now.

    Just saying, don’t kill the messenger.

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