December 26, Winters, Calif. / Aeronca 7AC


At about 17:45 Pacific time, an unoccupied Aeronca 7AC crashed in the mountains near Winters. The airplane took off from a private airstrip near Petaluma with no one aboard after the pilot started the airplane by hand propping the propeller. The airplane was not equipped with an electric starter and the pilot routinely started it by pulling the propeller through by hand. Prior to the accident, the pilot concluded the engine was flooded, so he turned off the mags and applied full throttle. He propped the engine backward to clear the fuel, then turned the mag switches back on for a normal start. He forgot to retard the throttle. The engine started a maximum power and took off. The crash site was 45 miles northeast of the departure point.


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