How To Start A Reciprocating Aircraft Engine (VI)

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Pablo Edronkin

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The pilot will step on the brakes no matter whether he has or hasn't place chocks on the main wheels; then he will open the throttle as much as the director asks and inject the fuel using the primer. After each step is completed he will answer loudly:

- "Magnetos both... one fourth throttle, brakes on... two injections..."

Bear in mind that after the magneto key is placed in any position except off and the throttle is opened The engine may start if anyone touches the propeller. If the engine is in a good shape, only one or two "kicks" to the propeller will do the job and the thing will be running in a couple of seconds. If it is very cold, hot or if the engine is not in optimal conditions, tuned, etc. the process of had propping may take longer.

The posture of the director right at the moment of kicking the prop and actuating on the magnetos.
The posture of the director right at the moment of kicking the prop and actuating on the magnetos.

So, the director will then perform a last check of the airplane's surrounding to determine if nobody is near the propeller in a dangerous position and then he will say loudly, for anybody to hear:

- "Free!"

This is like saying "Watch out!"

Then the pilot will make his own check in response to the director's actions, and if he is satisfied, he will respond in the same way.

Another view of a kick on the propeller.
Another view of a kick on the propeller.

After hearing confirmation from the pilot, the director will start with the first kick or action on any of the propeller's blades. This seems like a lot of work but the goal is to maximise safety; hand propping could indeed become hazardous, but if it is performed like a meticulous process, the danger is reduced in every way possible. Once again we insist that you never attempt to hand prop an airplane unless you have received proper and specific training. Being a pilot is not enough, having seen how others do it isn't either, as it is thinking that you can do it just because you think so.

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