Empty Plane Crashes, Only Injury Is Pilot's Pride

Image for article titled Empty Plane Crashes, Only Injury Is Pilot's Pride

Having a plane to fly is terrific. Having your plane fly away without anyone at the controls is terrifying. That's exactly what happened to this Canadian man. Fortunately, the only casualties were emotional.


Back in 1946 when the Aeronca Chief went into production, most airplanes didn't have electric starters. In fact, they didn't have any electrical system whatsoever. It was common practice to stand in front of the plane and sling the prop around to get the engine started. This generally required an assistant to turn the blades while the pilot worked the controls. At the very least, a sturdy set of wheel chocks should be used to keep everything in place.

In this case, it appears the aircraft was equipped with skis, which greatly reduces the ability to secure the airplane while it gets started.

Image for article titled Empty Plane Crashes, Only Injury Is Pilot's Pride

While the news report of this incident doesn't specify exactly how the plane got away, there was almost certainly a failure in the start procedure. This pilot is very lucky to have not injured himself or any other innocent bystanders.

Image for article titled Empty Plane Crashes, Only Injury Is Pilot's Pride

CBC New reported that the incident happened 170 miles northeast of Saskatoon at Nipawin Airport in Saskatchewan. As the engine started, the plane "gained enough speed to become airborne at approximately 30 feet" before it crashed into a nearby field, as detailed in a news release by the Royal Candian Mounted Police. The Transportation Safety Board was alerted of the incident, but it will not be pursuing the investigation any further.


Photos: Nipawin Fire Department

Chris is a pilot who loves airplanes and cars and his writing has been seen on Jalopnik. Contact him with questions or comments via twitter or email.



Back when I was a student pilot at the U of I, I remember them showing us some films of what can happen when hand propping goes wrong, in particular if the wheels are not secured...wonder if they have copies on YouTube.

I remember one where the plane went in circles with a terrified passenger while the pilot attempted to dodge the whirling prop trying to get back into the plane

I think it's this one...

FAA Hand-Propping Accident Video: