How To Start A Reciprocating Aircraft Engine (VII)

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Pablo Edronkin

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The actual propeller kick will be performed at about half an arm's length from the propeller. The blade should be rather high, at about ten o'clock. Arms should be slightly flexed and the propeller should be grasped with both hands open, wearing no gloves or anything else that might change the touch.

Most propellers turn clockwise from the perspective of the pilot, albeit in the case of vintage airplanes, some experimentals and in some special cases, props may turn counter clockwise. This means, from the perspective of the director, exactly the same: He will have to kick the prop counter clockwise, of course. If the engine turns into the opposite direction then the work will be done in the opposite direction too but it will remain essentially the same.


Letting go the propeller as the first magneto actuates the sparkplugs.
Letting go the propeller as the first magneto actuates the sparkplugs.

So, the direct, wearing no gloves, rings or anything that may turn his grasp ineffective in any way. The propeller blade may have sharp edges, so be careful. Both hands should be placed with the palms open over the side of the blade and only the point of the fingers should be bent over the edges.

The required force and work to actuate the magnetos is not much: The idea is to make the propeller turn only one cycle, which means that in the case of a four cylinder engine, ninety degrees will be enough. Each time the directors kick the propeller, he will have to step backwards. Of course, if the engine doesn't start, he will have to approach the prop and kick it again.


Notice the way to grab the propeller; this is the correct way to do so.
Notice the way to grab the propeller; this is the correct way to do so.

If the engine states to run, then he will step back and to his left facing the plane and the engine. This is done in such a way to keep an eye on the vehicle that may accidentally move and hit him. After starting the motor, the pilot will place the throttle again in idle and keep the engine running until the required parameters (oil pressure and temperature) have reached safe levels. From then on, other pre-flight procedures will be completed: The fire extinguisher will be removed with the chocks, doors will be closed, etc. All these steps will be the same or very similar in the case of hand started and electrically actuated engines.



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