November 1999 Issue

Popping the Prop

Unless you’re sure you know what you’re doing, think twice before you hand-prop your airplane

When I was a new flyer, an old instructor named Tony “Stubby” Azzetti taught me how to hand-prop an airplane. Despite the lack of three fingers on one hand, he made it look easy, as though he’d been swinging props to start airplane engines for decades. “Always remember,” he said as I took the propeller blade for the first time, “that propeller can’t see you and won’t feel a thing if your melon gets in the way.” Old Stubby sure knew how to teach.

Safety-conscious pilots will shake their heads in disbelief that anyone would intentionally grab a propeller and swing it. Good. Keep that attitude and you’ll live to be an old pilot. But some day, when your guard is down, you may be tempted to tw...

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