How To Start A Reciprocating Aircraft Engine (I)

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Pablo Edronkin

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Starting an aeronautical conventional engine is a rather simple procedure if it has a starter; but if you have to resort to hand propping, you should take some precautions and follow a carefully rehearsed technique, and this is the recommended method.

Before we start this discussion lets remember that a propeller is an extremely dangerous device for any animal or person once the engine of an aircraft is on. A typical propeller like those used in small GA airplanes weights between seven and eleven kilograms and on idle will turn at about 500RPM; we need not explain what could happen to anyone or anything crossing by accident its path.


The plane almost ready... but what's missing in the picture?
The plane almost ready... but what's missing in the picture?

All propellers should be treated as dangerous even if the plane is located inside a hangar and every system and instrument is thought to be disconnected; never let anyone get close or touch a propeller.


The chocks were missing, of course! This is a common mistake, but it could be hazardous in the case of hand propping an airplane.
The chocks were missing, of course! This is a common mistake, but it could be hazardous in the case of hand propping an airplane.

Thus, it is indispensable not to attempt to hand prop an airplane without proper training; in the case of vintage or classic aircraft, certified pilots would almost surely have received that training. Aviators using conventional-gear aircraft will likely have it too. But pilots that always flew with tricycle-geared planes may or may not have learned how to hand prop an aircraft to start its engine manually and may find it attractive to put their vehicle to work in the case that the electric starter malfunctions for any reason.



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