15 - Propellers Kill

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Hello again Folks,

I am probably at risk of being accused of bombarding you with safety info recently, but I make no apologies. The good weather season is about to get going in earnest. Flying activity will increase, and so will our accidents if we do not take action to prevent them.

I would like to thank Brian Mouchemore for the following comments, and I heartily agree with both his observations.

Hello Bob,

I thought I'd tell you about a couple of concerns that have been rattling about in my head after the highly commendable flying weekend.

One is the complacent habit of folks using the live end of their aeroplanes [ie the prop] to lean on when having discussions or expounding the merits of the ship to an audience. I saw a couple of people doing this, and as I have had the pleasure of the company of prop strike victims [boating and a/c], I am a bit sensitive to the possible outcome should an event occur. Having a first aid certificate is no preparation for the type of gross soft tissue and bony injury that a propeller can inflict, and I wonder if a friend could be saved if this happened at Serpentine field. I think a strong emphasis must be promoted by the safety committee regarding the above.

My second concern is the building skip outside SA's hangar, which I think should be relocated away from the strip. During the operation of the little Rotorway helicopter, I saw a plastic bag drawn into the main rotors and spat out the top. As the operator was at about mid field, it's a fair assumption the offending bag came from somewhere upwind and not from the attending crowd. With the W/SW winds any loose and light materials placed in the bin may find their way into oil or coolant radiators, ducts etc. of a/c using the main strip. The bin is a great asset, but as little things can bring an aeroplane undone, maybe it would be prudent to put it around the back.

Regards,

Brian Mouchemore

A tiny follow up. My buddy John Watkins, a very experienced pilot, got his arm slashed to the bone by a Tiger Moth propeller as he was merely walking past and it kicked, just once. Robin Owen lost three fingers to a Turbulent prop (Volkswagen engine) and as a teenager I saw the consequences of an instructor losing his head to one on an idling Piper Colt.

Think of a meat slicer, then think of it with a 150 horsepower engine...

Don't go anywhere near a propeller unless you have to, then treat it with enormous respect.

I am also very grateful for the availability of that skip, a;though I had seen it as a possible hazard to ground-looping aeroplanes, but I didn't get around to doing anything. I wish I could offer an alternative site for it outside my hangar, but there is no room. Can anybody suggest where the skip ought to go when it is next collected?

Yours,

Bob Grimstead
SABC Safety Committee