Primarily for general aviation discussion, but other aviation topics are also welcome.
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By MichaelP
#1783288
If you've ever wondered why the hand-starters you offer your help to seem to have a bit of an attitude, it's probably because they wish you'd sod off and leave them to concentrate on staying safe and getting the job done.


Nearly all the pilots I have offered to help have welcomed it. It’s only a few who refuse.
Most pilots realise the additional safety of a fellow pilot being close to the mags, or simply standing by the tailplane.
As above, when I have swung propellers, I have solicited the help of others to increase the safety of the action when competent people are available.

Or were you asking a specific question?


Yes. i’ll reword it:

You have parked your aeroplane at a fly-in, and someone goes to hand start an aeroplane behind yours without anyone in the cockpit, or by the tailplane.

Would you offer to help that person?
Would you be happy with him swinging the propeller unaided?

We’re not talking Fourniers here, yes there are always specifics, but as a general rule...
In my mind is the Luscombe that attacked the hangar door at Sandown, and the many hand swinging accidents to aircraft swung by people all of whom no doubt knew what they were doing.
Is safety “pompous”?
Last edited by MichaelP on Tue Jul 14, 2020 2:59 pm, edited 2 times in total.
User avatar
By MichaelP
#1783296
Yes, who are the pompous people?

Pro solo swinging without asking or accepting help, or me?
I can be a bit pompous I suppose, but my heart is in the safe operation of aircraft and helping my fellow aviators.
User avatar
By defcribed
#1783297
MichaelP wrote:Don’t tell me that what I write in the name of SAFETY is wrong.


You're wrong, and using the word safety doesn't make you right. What you've seen doesn't matter a jot - we can all imagine such carnage and we all wish to avoid it.

There are a number of ways to go about swinging a prop. Most of them pretty safe, none completely foolproof. Learning from the church of MichaelP doesn't automatically make it better. I fully understand your point about having someone in the cockpit to apply the brakes or kill the engine, but I've considered the matter and on balance I feel that the risks it introduces (confusion/communication, relying on someone's word rather than checking for oneself, etc) make me less safe than I am without someone there. Your mileage may vary and that's fine. I don't doubt your experience is more extensive than mine, but in the matter of risk management I trust my critical reasoning skills ahead of your dogma and forceful desire to educate.

The fundamental difference between us is that I accept your preference for a person in the cockpit as a valid choice. You extend me no such courtesy and insist that your way is the only right way. Such religious fervour and certainty is always a warning flag to me.

On Saturday at Sandown I sat on the grass watching three J3 Cubs in a line start up and taxi away. All three pilots were one-up, all were obviously well-known to each other - socialising prior to departure - but on reaching the aircraft all chat stopped and all three started their own engines according to their own routine and without any help from the others. You'd probably have had kittens.

Perhaps those of us who frequently need to hand-prop alone get used to doing so and grow used to a process that we don't like people to interfere with. Perhaps if you are introduced to it in a club or flying school setting the 'team effort' method becomes natural. Who knows? I at least am open about my uncertainty in some things.
Last edited by defcribed on Tue Jul 14, 2020 3:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
By romille
#1783300
MichaelP wrote:Yes, who are the pompous people?

Pro solo swinging without asking or accepting help, or me?
I can be a bit pompous I suppose, but my heart is in the safe operation of aircraft and helping my fellow aviators.

It is worth noting that I only decided to use my self starting procedure after a particularly concerning incident with someone that should have known better.
#1783302
MichaelP wrote:Don’t tell me that what I write in the name of SAFETY is wrong.


Careful. Writing something in the name of safety doesn't automatically make it right.
#1783316
IMCR wrote:I ripped the side wall on my car tyre (dont tell me, these low profiles are all well and good but not on our roads), pulled over, and had two cars stop within no time asking if they could help.

Really, I hadn't taken you for a long legged, short skirt wearing looker, IMCR. :D
#1783321
The only time I have ever damaged an aircraft occurred when I became distracted by a well meaning 'helper'.

defcribed wrote:I also ask them not to talk to me during the procedure. The greatest risk of an accident happening is distraction or someone doing something unexpected.


This was my mistake. I allowed myself to become distracted by their presence and broke my well rehearsed routine carried out many times both at home base from where I invariably fly alone. I also employed this technique at remote airfields because I am familiar with it and my aircraft. Without the distraction of a second party I am in the zone, in tune with what I'm doing and have more spare capacity.

I have accepted a swing from one or two people but only those I know extremely well, who know my aircraft and are prepared to listen to a brief on who calls the shots (me).
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By rf3flyer
#1783330
MichaelP wrote:The Fournier is an exception, and even the Cub with a swing from the back side of the propeller and access to the mags and throttle is reasonable.

I reiterate, your original post allowed of no exceptions! Now there are exceptions. :roll:
In Tiger Club days solo swinging of the Fournier RF4D was rare. There was almost always someone there to swing the prop.

I've never been a member of the Tiger Club and for the most part had I needed someone to hand prop for me I'd have flown around 25% of the hours I have logged. My aircraft, and I'm sure there are many others regardless of the number of seats they have, is a one man (yeah, yeah, non-PC, I know) aircraft. People sometimes ask if they can help move it or whatever but the answer is always "no thank you."
So let’s ask readers of this forum what they think.
You have arrived and parked your aeroplane at a fly in, and someone decides to swing the propeller of an aircraft with no-one in the cockpit, and no one to restrain it.
Are you happy for someone to do this?

Yes. I assume he, like me, knows what he is about.
Last edited by rf3flyer on Tue Jul 14, 2020 4:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
#1783333
MichaelP wrote:
If you've ever wondered why the hand-starters you offer your help to seem to have a bit of an attitude, it's probably because they wish you'd sod off and leave them to concentrate on staying safe and getting the job done.


Nearly all the pilots I have offered to help have welcomed it. It’s only a few who refuse.
Most pilots realise the additional safety of a fellow pilot being close to the mags, or simply standing by the tailplane.
As above, when I have swung propellers, I have solicited the help of others to increase the safety of the action when competent people are available.

Or were you asking a specific question?


Yes. i’ll reword it:

You have parked your aeroplane at a fly-in, and someone goes to hand start an aeroplane behind yours without anyone in the cockpit, or by the tailplane.

Would you offer to help that person?
Would you be happy with him swinging the propeller unaided?

We’re not talking Fourniers here, yes there are always specifics, but as a general rule...
In my mind is the Luscombe that attacked the hangar door at Sandown, and the many hand swinging accidents to aircraft swung by people all of whom no doubt knew what they were doing.
Is safety “pompous”?


Michael, I think that you might be slightly over-doing this. Hand-starting solo isn't a black-and-white issue. There is no Right and Wrong here to argue about. Obviously we'd all agree that hand-swinging is inherently risky and that certain precautions must ALWAYS be taken when so doing. They include correct throttle-setting, correct chocking, tying back the stick - and being fully aware of the position of the switches throughout the process. But that is NOT to say that it cannot be done solo and safely - and you are over-stating it to imply otherwise.

In the spirit of disclosure (and not of willy-waving, I hope you'll accept) I've owned/operated Tiger Moths for quite a few years and also owned or co-owned a number of other aeroplanes which had only Armstrong Starters fitted to them. I've hand-swung my aeroplanes solo literally thousands of times - which is not to say that I consider myself an expert and nor is it to say that I've never made a mistake so doing. But I've done it enough times to know what I'm doing.

I have also on occasions been offered help by well-meaning onlookers in circumstances akin to that which you describe; usually people who were unknown to me. In other words, I wasn't able to judge at the time whether they really knew what they were doing or just 'wanted a go'. I've almost always declined that help on the basis that I'd rather follow the set routine that has served me well than accommodate the well-meaning but potentially incompetent (and, at the very least, non-standard) 'assistance' of someone else. Once or twice I've been treated to a little eye-rolling when I've turned down such help. But I remain of the view that I'd rather do it myself properly than vary what I know works in order to accommodate someone else's preferences and/or their kindness.

I truly hope that if I've ever turned down your help you haven't been offended by that. But it's really not an issue about giving or taking offence. It's about doing something properly; which does not necessarily mean 1) doing it with someone else's help, or 2) meeting someone else's judgements as to what is or is not safe.
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#1783335
Starting a Cub from behind means the mag switches are close to your left hand and with the normal stick tied back/chocks in/throttle set for idle it’s low risk and allows one person operation.

But trying to hand start with any more than idle setting can cause the aircraft to nose over resulting in engine shock and a smashed prop. That wrote off a single seater that I had a share in. Definitely not a one person job.
#1783347
I have taxied out to go and fly with the pitot cover on, pilot taxying off the RWY saw it and stopped me. Thank you. I don't mind anyone 'interfering' or asking, worst that can happen is that we have a chat. Whether that is distracting or not is my responsibility.

Can see the various POV.
#1783349
I remember spotting my IR instructor start up and prepare to taxi with the left wing still tied down: I was in the FBO office so rang the tower who radioed her:
She was actually not best pleased when she discovered who the actual 'informant' was...........

Ya win some, ya lose some.

Peter :roll:
#1783355
MichaelP wrote:So let’s ask readers of this forum what they think.


Well, I wasn't going to stick my nose in, but if you insist... ;-)

I think Defcribed has got the wrong end of the stick, so to speak, Michael is talking about you, the pilot, being behind the controls and someone else swinging the prop. That way there's no communication or lack thereof as to how things are set in the cockpit. The swinger verifies...."Throttle set. Brakes on. Mags on/contact." together with a thumb up, or a "Mags off" and thumb down.

rf3flyer wrote:I reiterate, your original post allowed of no exceptions! Now there are exceptions.


It even contained an exception:
MichaelP wrote:NO ONE should swing a live engine without someone in the cockpit. That’s a rule!.

Followed by:
MichaelP wrote:Stuck on a lonely strip is one thing


So there is an exception if there are no other experienced swingers around.... ;-)

If I see someone on their own getting ready, I usually ask them if they'd like a swing. I don't take offence one way or other other, but if they want to do it themselves, I stand well away not to provide a distraction (no other reason, honest... ;-) ). Sometimes a previous, "No, we're ok, thanks." has turned into "Actually, would you mind?" after 20 mins of swinging hasn't managed to start the engine and arm fatigue is starting to set in.

I've been met once with, "It's got a starter." :D

Though I've swung a 172 or PA28 with a dead battery more than a couple of times (not with me as PIC).

Some years ago I remember reading a discussion on one of the American usenet groups about a way of tying down the tail where the end of the rope comes to the cockpit and you pull on that to release it. Some sort of fancy knot. I thought at the time that it was rather a smart way of doing it.
User avatar
By Dave W
#1783361
I would be very reluctant indeed to have a person unknown to me actually swinging the prop.

I've no idea what their actual competence might be, regardless of what they say.

I would not agree to it.
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