Well, Tom, I learned a couple of things (I’m almost 60 and started flying in 1965) from your article “Old School Flying.”
1. I never knew it was illegal to prop an airplane.
2. I’d never heard of the crank in the middle of a Piper instrument panel.
Back in the 1960s, we had a guy on the field who would prop from behind. We all thought he was showing off.
Years later when my wife started taking lessons in a J-3, her instructor (younger than we were) taught all his students to prop from behind. To this day, she props from behind. She doesn’t like being in front of the propeller — too dangerous.
Note from Senior Editor Thomas F. Norton: Thanks for your letter. There’s nothing illegal about propping, whether from in front or behind. What’s illegal is doing it alone, with nobody in the cockpit, which is what the article said. The crank starter was short-lived, but an interesting concept. As I said in the story, I haven’t seen one for decades. They were a pre-World War II gizmo. I have no idea whether owners simply removed them later, replaced them with electric starters, or — quite possible — that all but a handful have disappeared.
Thanks for reading the story and taking the time to reply. It’s always interesting to hear from readers.