Aircraft: Piper Cherokee. Injuries: 1 Fatal. Location: San Diego, Calif. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: The passenger reported that he and the pilot were both seated in the airplane when the pilot made three unsuccessful attempts to start the engine. The pilot told the passenger to “get out, I need to jump it.” The passenger got out and was walking away from the aircraft when he heard a noise. When he looked back toward the front of the airplane, he saw the pilot lying on the ground below the propeller. The engine was not running.
Post-accident examination revealed that the magneto switch was in the both position. Investigators determine that it is likely that the pilot moved the propeller, and because the magnetos were in a ready-to-start condition, this resulted in a spark plug firing, which caused the propeller to turn rapidly and strike the pilot.
Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to turn the magneto switch to the off position before moving the propeller to start the engine by hand.
NTSB Identification: WPR12LA085
This January 2012 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.