On July 4, 1998, at 0112 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 172M, N12187, was substantially damaged as it collided with a parked airplane during start up at the Somerset-Pulaski County Airport (SME), Somerset, Kentucky. The certificated private pilot was seriously injured. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the local personal flight that was to be conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

The private pilot stated that he regularly flew at night, and that his normal procedure was to untie the airplane during his preflight walk around. He reported that he immediately checked for the key in the airplane, flipped the master switch on, and found the battery dead. He stated that he did not want to disappoint his passengers, so he decided to hand prop the airplane.

The pilot reported that he pumped the engine primer 4 times, set the master switch-on, ignition-both, mixture-full rich, throttle-open 1/8 inch, and ensured that the fuel selector was on both. The pilot stated that he did not check the security of the tie down ropes, but the three ropes were attached to the unchocked airplane. The pilot indicated that none of his passengers were pilots, so he did not want them in the airplane. The pilot reported that he turned the prop, got it to cough, but never got the engine started. After several attempts, the pilot indicated that another airplane taxied in and parked in the spot next to his right wing.

The pilot reported that he again started to hand prop the airplane. After 2-3 minutes, the engine caught and the airplane lurched forward. He stated that the left wing and the empennage tie down ropes fell off, and the airplane began to pivot around the right wing tie down rope. The pilot reported that he gave chase to the airplane, but was hit by either the left wing strut or horizontal stab as the empennage swung around. The runaway airplane's propeller impacted the parked airplane's left wing.

A Federal Aviation Administration Inspector examined the damaged Cessna 172. He reported that the parked airplane's propeller punctured the Cessna's left wing, cracking the trailing edge spar, and that an undetermined amount of damage was done to the left horizontal stab and to the engine cowling area. The private pilot reported that he broke his wrist and received 20 stitches above his eye. When interviewed after the accident by a National Transportation Safety Board Investigator, the pilot stated that he never hand propped an airplane before, nor had he received instruction on how to hand-prop an airplane.

Neither the pilot nor the operator responded to any of the four requests for a completed NTSB Form 6120.1/2 Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident Report. The pilot was contacted by mail with no response. Copies were transmitted by facsimile to the operator of the airplane, also with no response.

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