Hand-propping results in wild ride for passenger

Aircraft: Alon A2. Injuries: None. Location: Forks, Wash. Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot planned on starting his airplane by hand-propping, because the battery was dead. After loading his passenger, he set the throttle and the parking brake, but he did not tie down the airplane or place chocks in front of its wheels.

When he pulled the propeller through, the engine started immediately.

However, he had placed the throttle in a position that resulted in a higher RPM than he expected. Due to the high RPM, the parking brake was unable to hold the airplane in position, and it started rolling forward with only the passenger inside.

The pilot’s attempt to get into the cockpit were unsuccessful. Although the passenger was able to steer the airplane along the taxiway, she did not know how to stop the airplane, and the Alon went through a fence and over an embankment.

According to the pilot, there were no malfunctions or anomalies with the parking brake system or the throttle mechanism.

Probable cause: The pilot’s incorrect placement of the throttle prior to starting the airplane by hand. Contributing to the accident was that the pilot did not ensure that the airplane was restrained in a manner that would keep it from moving forward.

NTSB Identification: WPR12CA095

This February 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.


  1. Brian says

    Tie down or chock the airplane, sure. But why wasn’t the passenger told “if anything goes wrong, such as the plane moves forward without me in, or if anything else seems wrong or scary, PULL BACK ON THESE TWO CONTROLS (throttle & mixture) and the engine will stop”.

    I can’t think of a better reason and need for a passenger briefing than hand propping.

    • Tom says

      Your solution has some merit but technically unless the “passenger” is a rated pilot in that aircraft then he/she isn’t legal to be in “sole control” of the aircraft without a legal pilot in the airplane as the pilot in command. In an emergency of course all bets are off; nevertheless, just some food for thought.

      • Bluestar says

        He probably wouldn’t take the time to brief the passenger since he didn’t have the time to chock the wheels, same for checking fuel, oil and a proper walk around. If you don’t have the time don’t fly!

        • Tom says

          Chock, chock, chock?
          Wasn’t time to do what was right,
          He was up against the hurry-up clock,
          But ended up missing his flight.

  2. Tom says

    The battery had apparently expired,
    Pilot applied parking brake (so he thought),
    Turned the prop and the engine fired,
    Brake failed now the fence he has bought.

  3. Bluestar says

    Why, why can’t pilots take the few minutes to tie down or chock their aircraft. If they can’t find the time to do that, then they can,t find the time to do the other checks that are required, it’s probably going to be an unsafe flight !

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