The pilot made a fuel stop as part of a solo cross-country flight in the Cessna 172.
The pilot’s mother and sister had come out to the airport in Glencoe, Minnesota, to visit. After fueling the airplane, his mother and sister returned to their car.
The pilot conducted his preflight, started the engine, and was completing the checklist when he “heard and felt a violent thud.”
He looked up to see his mother “sprinting towards the car.”
The pilot’s mother had returned to the airplane unexpectedly and was struck by the propeller, resulting in a serious injury to her left arm.
The airplane exhibited no obvious damage.
Probable Cause: A bystander’s inadvertent contact with the propeller while the engine was running.
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This December 2020 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.