COMMENTARY / LIGHT FLIGHT
Hand-propping for the fearful
IT WAS ONE OF THOSE HAND-PROPPING EVENTS that could have
turned out very badly. The scene was a winter fly-in at a friend’s
house on a frozen lake west of Minneapolis. Guests had landed
on the lake and taxied up to the friend’s backyard, then gone
inside for hot chocolate and hangar flying.
Now, shadows were lengthening, and pilots and their passengers were leaving. A handful of us were still inside, putting on
coats and gloves and saying goodbye while others were starting
their engines. Somebody inside shouted, “Hey!” and we all
turned to see what was happening: A man was hand-propping
a Piper J- 3 Cub, which was fine, but he was standing on the ice
to do it.
The prop swung through, and the engine started nicely.
He backed away, presumably contemplating his work with
satisfaction, and then was startled by a rush of people storming
out of the house toward him, calling out, yelling at him to stop.
left to do but to wait while the adrena-
line in our bloodstreams gradually
The disaster that was averted, of
course, was that he might have lost his
footing on the slippery ice and fallen
into the propeller disc as the engine
started. Such things happen often
enough, although I can’t seem to find a
collection of them by year or by type of
aircraft; they happen, and that’s
enough to make us stop and think
THE GREAT SKEDADDLE
Allow me to digress for a moment.
Having studied innumerable photos