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.
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.
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