On January 24, 2005, at 1149 central standard time, a Cessna 172 single-engine airplane, N8134B, was substantially damaged following a loss of control on the ground during the engine start at the Harrison County Airport (ASL), near Marshall, Texas. The commercial pilot, who was attempting to board the airplane after hand-propping, was not injured. The airplane was owned and operated by a private individual. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan was not filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The intended local flight had not been initiated at the time of the accident.

The 1,620-hour pilot reported in the Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident Report (NTSB Form 6120.1/2) that after three unsuccessful attempts to start the engine using the electrical starter, battery power was almost depleted, so he elected to hand-prop the airplane. The pilot added that he turned off all the electrical switches, primed the engine, and exited the airplane to tie the tail of the aircraft down. The pilot further stated that he tied the tail of the airplane down because "on older aircraft in these types of service, the parking brakes are either non-existent or unreliable." After turning the electrical switches back on, and setting the throttle, the pilot started to hand-prop the airplane by unassisted. The first attempt to start the engine by hand-propping was unsuccessful. The pilot re-primed the engine and reset the throttle for a second attempt to hand start the engine. After the second attempt, the engine started and remained at an idle-power setting.

The pilot stated that he entered the airplane and closed the throttle to the "lowest idle setting," before he untied the tail of the airplane. As the pilot was reentering the airplane, his "foot slipped off the step" on the left main landing gear strut. The pilot fell and reached forward to "catch himself." While reaching forward, the pilot inadvertently "hit the throttle enough to increase the rpm" of the engine. Subsequently, the airplane started to taxi forward unoccupied. The pilot was able to re-board the airplane and adjust the throttle to idle while applying brakes as the airplane collided with a fence.

Examination of the airplane by the pilot revealed that the right wing spar was bent.

According to the Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident Report (NTSB Form 6120.1/2) Recommendation (How Could This Accident Have Been Prevented) section, the pilot reported, "jumpstart or batt[ery] charge when possible, assistance with prop start, lock throttle tightly, start in a direction away from obstacles, and pay close attention to all actions."

A review of the Airplane Flying Handbook, FAA-H-8083-3 revealed, "it is helpful if a pilot is familiar with the procedures and dangers involved in starting an engine by turning the propeller by hand (hand propping). Due to the associated hazards, this method of starting should be used only when absolutely necessary and when proper precautions have been taken.

An engine must never be hand propped unless two people, both familiar with the airplane and hand propping techniques, are available to perform the procedure. The person pulling the propeller blades through directs all activity and is in charge of the procedure. The other person, thoroughly familiar with the controls, must be seated in the airplane with the brakes set. As an additional precaution, chocks should be placed in front of the main wheels. If this is not feasible, the airplane's tail should be securely tied down. Never allow a person unfamiliar with the controls to occupy the pilot's seat when hand propping. The procedure should never be attempted alone."

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