18 - More Propeller Anecdotes

  • Safety Articles

Hello again everybody,

It seems I am not alone in having seen nasty prop strike incidents and accidents. Now do you believe they are dangerous? (Except when hanging on the wall with a clock in the middle!)

Hi Bob, may I put in my bob's worth.

I have witnessed several prop incidents as follows.

While learning to fly in the 1940s I saw a passenger walk off the wing of a Tiger Moth via the leading edge!! a loud crack was heard part of the prop went vertically upwards, & the passenger slumped to the ground. About 6 inches was missing from both blades including the brass leading edge. The passenger was revived despite a deep cut in his scalp, he was a senior detective in the police force, I had the pleasure of driving him to hospital, although I did not possess a driver's licence, only a pilot's licence.

The next accident was when an engineer was swinging my prop on an Auster, it backfired & the Fairey Reed prop cut 4 fingers to the bone.

Someone pulled over a prop in a crowded hangar in NZ, the Tiger Moth engine fired. The result: a badly damaged Percival Proctor, & the tail of a Miles Gemini. The mag had the cover off the contact breaker & was live.

I had just taxied in after flying a friend's Corby Starlet at SEN, I stopped the engine by turning off the fuel, (standard for Posa carby) the owner came over & without warning pulled the prop one turn, I then noticed that I had left both mags on.

I was having trouble starting a replica Hawker Hurricane at SEN, I suggested that the impulse mag be checked by turning the prop with both mags off, someone obliged very casually, without any warning the motor started, there was a fault in the mag wiring, it was a miracle that the guy didn't lose his arm.

I was to fly a Taylor Monoplane at Geraldton, it would not start, I offered to give the owner a spell at the prop, on my first swing the motor back fired, something dropped to the ground I thought that it was my hand so decided to faint. It was actually one lamination from the trailing edge of the wooden prop, again I suffered two badly cut fingers on one hand.

Today I reckon that I am the most cautious prop swinger at SEN.

Regards, Graham Hewitt
(you may use my name if you wish, I have a thing about anonymity)

Thanks Bob, for your very thorough reminder about prop dangers. I also witnessed broken fingers cut to the bone by a Tiger Kick back ( the pilot set the mixture, not the throttle.

John Chesbrough

Bob Grimstead
SABC Safety Committee