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PIlot says he was ‘probably to blame’ after Fenland Airfield accident

A different aeroplane than that involved in the accident flies into the airfield on the day.
A different aeroplane than that involved in the accident flies into the airfield on the day.

A 65-year-old pilot has told accident investigators he was probably to blame for a horror incident which left him seriously injured after he started his aircraft by hand, swinging the propeller, which then hit him repeatedly.

The incident happened during an open day at Fenland Airfield in Holbeach St Johns on the afternoon of April 18 last year.

The pilot, from Ripon in north Yorkshire, who had 394 hours’ flying experience, used the propeller swinging technique to start the 1959-built ‘Minicab’ – reg G ATPV – as it was not fitted with a starter.

What happened next is highlighted in a newly published Air Accident Investigation Branch report.

The report says : “The throttle was in the fully open position when the pilot attempted to start the engine by hand swinging the propeller. The engine started at high power, the aircraft tipped forward and the pilot was struck by the propeller, suffering a serious injury.”

The report says that there was no-one in the cockpit at the time and the pilot had applied the parking brake and chocked the wheels.

However, it continues : “When the engine fired the pilot was immediately aware that the rpm was too high.

“He attempted to move round the aircraft, to the left side of the cockpit, to shut the engine down but, as he did so, the aircraft tipped forward and he was struck repeatedly on the forearm by the propeller.”

Airfield staff rushed to the scene and provided First Aid, including improvising a tourniquet with a belt.

The report says that the pilot later told accident investigators that he estimated that he had carried out the start-up procedure hundreds of times previously. However, it says that he believed he was probably to blame for what happened.

“The pilot considered it most likely that, immediately before the accident, he had omitted to retard the throttle from the fully open position before attempting to wing the propeller. In human factors terms, this was an unintentional lapse,” says the report.

The aircraft is currently owned by a resident of Moulton Seas End.

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