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Old 10-25-2012, 11:19 AM
benburb benburb is offline
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Jacksonville, FL
Posts: 44

Somebody suggested installing a warning system to let you know you left the master on... you've got one. When shutting down, just don't turn of the strobe switch. It's hard to walk away from a plane with the strobes flashing. (learned from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Dept. Aviation Division.) Ben
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Old 10-25-2012, 03:42 PM
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flyboy1963 flyboy1963 is online now
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Lake Country, B.C. Canada
Posts: 2,425
Default so what IS the right way?

seems like a lot of guys are still getting injured.
Where do you go to learn the proper way?......all this talk and experience and it sounds like nobody knows if there is one, or what the correct technique might be!!!

I've only propped a 85-hp continental, taught by my dad...who learned from some J-3 guys ( of course they ususally did it from behind the prop, often standing on a float!) It was the typical swing your foot, pull-thru, and move away all in one fluid motion.

at our local club, one guy shared a technique where once set, primed and the prop positioned, with the switch on, one could s-l-o-w-l-y move the prop on a 172 while standing behind, with one or 2 fingers only, until it fired...without all the risk associated with using a lot of force while balancing on one foot etc.

Can we agree on.... or learn the best method, and save some hands/scalps?
Perry Y.
RV-9a - SOLD!....
Lake Country, BC
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Old 10-25-2012, 05:14 PM
Ron Lee's Avatar
Ron Lee Ron Lee is offline
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 3,275

Originally Posted by flyboy1963 View Post
Can we agree on.... or learn the best method, and save some hands/scalps?
I will fix the underlying problem and start normally.
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Old 10-25-2012, 05:33 PM
scsmith scsmith is offline
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Ashland, OR
Posts: 2,804
Default Two ways, many variables

There are two basic ways that most of us are taught, but many variables can influence the ease, safety, and success of trying to hand-prop an airplane.

The 'normal' way for land planes is facing the airplane. the other way is from behind the prop, and is normally done on float planes (kinda hard to stand in front of the plane and this is mostly done with smaller engines.

The problem is, the variables are things like the height of the prop relative to your hands, position of the compression stroke, how high a compression ratio, how heavy a prop, how many blades, and probably other factors.

Some people who were previously very experienced and successful with hand-propping have recounted some special circumstances here in this thread that led to injury, even though they are using the nominally 'standard' method.

So, agreeing on a standard method isn't going to prevent injuries, and why some here have said they just won't do it. Those that do, recognize how to adapt the standard method to the special circumstances, or at least recognize the need to, and decide for themselves on the risk/benefit trade.

Another complicating factor -- just to add to the discussion: Lets say it is a Lycoming with Bendix F.I. and has already been run today - which means it is basically flooded. Using the starter, I go WOT, full lean, and it cranks for about 5-7 seconds before it fires, then I add mixture and retard throttle to keep it running. So......given that situation, is it even POSSIBLE to get it to start on a hand-prop? If it won't fire for 5 seconds of WOT cranking, how are you going to get it to start on a hand-pull? I guess I would go WOT, switch cold, and prop it through a bunch of times to try to flush the flooded cylinders, then I would prime and try to start as if cold (idle throttle, rich mixture). I don't know if that would work?
Steve Smith
Aeronautical Engineer
RV-8 N825RV
IO-360 A1A
WW 200RV
"The Magic Carpet" Flying since Sept. 2009
Hobbs 635
LS6-15/18W sailplane SOLD
bought my old LS6-A back!!
VAF donation Dec 2020
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Old 10-25-2012, 05:50 PM
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n5lp n5lp is offline
fugio ergo sum
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Carlsbad, NM
Posts: 1,912
Default The FAA version

Introduction to Flight Training

An engine should not be hand propped unless two people, both familiar with the airplane and hand propping techniques, are available to perform the procedure. The person pulling the propeller blades through directs all activity and is in charge of the procedure. The other person, thoroughly familiar with the controls, must be seated in the airplane with the brakes set. As an additional precaution, chocks may be placed in front of the main wheels. If this is not feasible, the airplane?s tail may be securely tied. Never allow a person unfamiliar with the controls to occupy the pilot?s seat when hand propping. The procedure should never be attempted alone.

When hand propping is necessary, the ground surface near the propeller should be stable and free of debris. Unless a firm footing is available, consider relocating the airplane. Loose gravel, wet grass, mud, oil, ice, or snow might cause the person pulling the propeller through to slip into the rotating blades as the engine starts.

Both participants should discuss the procedure and agree on voice commands and expected action. To begin the procedure, the fuel system and engine controls (tank selector, primer, pump, throttle, and mixture) are set for a normal start. The ignition/ magneto switch should be checked to be sure that it is OFF. Then the descending propeller blade should be rotated so that it assumes a position slightly above the horizontal. The person doing the hand propping should face the descending blade squarely and stand slightly less than one arm?s length from the blade. If a stance too far away were assumed, it would be necessary to lean forward in an unbalanced condition to reach the blade. This may cause the person to fall forward into the rotating blades when the engine starts.

The procedure and commands for hand propping are:

Pilot seat occupant, after making sure the fuel is ON, mixture is RICH, ignition/magneto switch is OFF, throttle is CLOSED, and brakes SET, says, ?GAS ON, SWITCH OFF, THROTTLE CLOSED, BRAKES SET.?
Person out front, after pulling the propeller through to prime the engine says, ?BRAKES AND CONTACT.?

Pilot seat occupant checks the brakes SET and turns the ignition switch ON, then says, ?BRAKES AND CONTACT.?

The propeller is swung by forcing the blade downward rapidly, pushing with the palms of both hands. If the blade is gripped tightly with the fingers, the person?s body may be drawn into the propeller blades should the engine misfire and rotate momentarily in the opposite direction. As the blade is pushed down, the person should step backward, away from the propeller. If the engine does not start, the propeller should not be repositioned for another attempt until it is certain the ignition/magneto switch is turned OFF.
The words CONTACT (mags ON) and SWITCH OFF (mags OFF) are used because they are significantly different from each other. Under noisy conditions or high winds, the words CONTACT and SWITCH OFF are less likely to be misunderstood than SWITCH ON and SWITCH OFF.

When removing the wheel chocks after the engine starts, it is essential that the pilot remember that the propeller is almost invisible. Incredible as it may seem, serious injuries and fatalities occur when people who have just started an engine walk or reach into the propeller arc to remove the chocks. Before the chocks are removed, the throttle should be set to idle and the chocks approached from the rear of the propeller. Never approach the chocks from the front or the side.

The procedures for hand propping should always be in accordance with the manufacturer?s recommendations and checklist. Special starting procedures are used when the engine is already warm, very cold, or when flooded or vapor locked. There will also be a different starting procedure when an external power source is used.
Larry Pardue
Carlsbad, NM

RV-6 N441LP Flying
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Old 10-25-2012, 06:13 PM
2bolts 2bolts is offline
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: San Antonio, TX
Posts: 120

I used to hand prop a Luscombe 8a (65hp) I had a 1/2 share in back in England, had to, no electrics. One winter (cold and damp) I swung that thing forever, and it would not start, turned out to be a mag fault. But I kept the people in the tower at Rochester amused for about 30 minutes.

To add to N51p good , We also used to use 'key out' the person in the cabin would then pull the key out of the mag/ignition switch hold the key up for the hand starter to see and then put it on top of the dash.
A Brit in Texas
RV8 N886LH (Reserved) BuNo 83320
Collecting books/info/tools.
Tail kit arrived! 9/30/2012
Construction started

"The engine's overheating, and so am I! Either we stand down, or blow up! Now which do you want?" Sqn Ldr Canfield.
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Old 10-25-2012, 06:51 PM
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tcone1 tcone1 is offline
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Fresno, CA
Posts: 323
Default Weirder still

I've propped a Chieftain, Mooney, Stearmen (plural of Stearman?)
lots of small stuff J-3, champ, luscombe etc. and my Whirlwind propped RV-8. Every time I do it, it is serious business...that thing will kill you if you aren't really careful.

The RV-8 is the scariest so far. There's ZERO inertia with that lightweight Whirlwind. I basically prime, pull a couple of blades (cold mags), position the prop just at the onset of a compression stroke, and then SLOWLY pull it through. When the impulse coupling releases, it's running, so be out of the way.

Who on the list has hand propped a jet?

We're in the Hawker, down on the island of Bonaire, the wind is howling 40 knots right up the tail pipe. If we engage the starter with that much reverse rotation it will shear the starter/generator shaft instantly. There's no tug, towbar, nor anyone to help turn the Hawker (27,000 pounds) around into the wind by hand. Captain says to eager young co-pilot "Go out and climb up on the wing, use your hands to stop the reverse rotation of the fan and as soon as I engage the starter, wait until N1 starts spinning the correct direction, let go and jump down"...easy right? It worked great. The engine started.

Happily, I'm no longer young, eager or a co-pilot.

Be careful and remember..."If you have time to spare, go by air"
Timothy Cone
Sierra Skypark (KE79) Fresno CA
RV-8, XP360, RV200
Flown Sept. 12, 2007
1600 hours on the hobbs and loving it
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Old 10-25-2012, 07:19 PM
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Ironflight Ironflight is offline
VAF Moderator / Line Boy
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Dayton, NV
Posts: 12,548

Tim Wins!!!
Paul F. Dye
Editor at Large - KITPLANES Magazine
RV-8 - N188PD - "Valkyrie"
RV-6 (By Marriage) - N164MS - "Mikey"
RV-3B - N13PL - "Tsamsiyu"
A&P, EAA Tech Counselor/Flight Advisor
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Old 10-25-2012, 08:18 PM
drakerv drakerv is offline
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Redmond Wash
Posts: 96
Default Tim Wins?

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Old 10-25-2012, 09:26 PM
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Ron Lee Ron Lee is offline
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 3,275

Years ago I was in my yard and heard a rapidly increasing engine noise .... possibly to near full throttle. It lasted just a few seconds before there was a thud and the engine noise stopped.

The pilot of a certified plane had hand propped it with his likely non-pilot wife at the controls. The planes motion was stopped by a hangar. The wife received non-trivial upper extremity injuries and the pilot was lucky he was not killed.

I do not know if the plane was totaled but it may have been.

I do not recall more specifics but would not be surprised if this was brought on by a need to go somewhere and not taking the time to fix the underlying mechanical/electrical problem.
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