NTSB Identification: LAX02LA058.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, December 26, 2001 in Winters, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/25/2003
Aircraft: Aeronca 7AC, registration: N83136
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.
NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
The pilot "propped" (hand started) the engine and the airplane subsequently took off with no one aboard and crashed in nearby mountains about 2 hours later. The aircraft was not equipped with an electric starter motor and the pilot normally and routinely started it by hand-propping. The pilot (who was alone) stood behind the propeller when pulling on it. He reported that, after propping the engine about 4 times without achieving engine start, he perceived the engine was flooded and returned to the cockpit where he turned the magneto switch from "both" to "off" and advanced the throttle to the full throttle position. He then turned the engine backwards 10 revolutions. He next returned to the cockpit again and turned the magneto switch back to the "both" position; however, he forgot to retard the throttle back to the idle position. When he next propped the engine it started at maximum power. The pilot attempted to restrain the airplane but was unable to do so and the airplane moved forward and took off with no one aboard. The airplane was located the following morning about 45 miles northeast of the departure point, having crashed in mountainous terrain.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The failure of the pilot to retard the engine throttle to idle while hand-propping the engine, which resulted in the engine starting at full (takeoff) power and the airplane taking off with no one aboard. Full narrative available
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