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„The Reason (in my case)“
I know many of you want to know what was the reason for my accident and I want to share it with you so everybody can be more careful and I hope in future this will not happen again.
But for me it’s very important that you all understand that this is just 1 of 1000 possible reasons for an engine to go on full power! So please be honest to yourself and don’t tell yourself „this can’t happen to me cause I have different engine….“ Maybe you have a different Paramotor/Engine/Carburetor but with each engine there can happen things like this.
Since beginning of the year I fly a Polini Thor200 with PWK Carburetor. Probably while transport there was tension on the throttle cable so it get pulled out of the carburetor and it didn’t slide back to its original place as it stuck on the edge of the hole. So the needle was already pulled out 13mm which is min. 50% of power.
Before I pulled the starter first time I tested the handle and checked if I have free movement and if I hear the click both when full power and when I release. What I didn’t check was if I have the hole way for movement for my handle. 1st point is that I didn’t think about it, I only wanted to check if the cable is free moving. 2nd point is that I had only very few flights with this engine and I never really checked how far I can move the handle.
Because of the engine was already on power I didn’t manage to start it at the beginning. Some people offered me to help pulling the starter but here I made a big mistake and told them „No thank you, I will put it down“. As I cleaned the engine for transport in the plane I wanted to check first if there is already enough fuel inside and then I continued on the ground with pulling the starter.
After several attempts and pumping up more fuel I decided to open the little screw under the carburetor to release all fuel. Then I closed it and pumped up fuel again. I stand sideways to my Paramotor and hold the throttle handle (only on the stick) and the frame in my right hand. I made sure that I can reach the Stop-Button and that there is no pressure on the handle. With my left hand I pulled the starter once and directly heard that it will start now. I was happy about this and pulled a second time. From the first moment when I pulled and I heard the engine starting I directly realized that its going on high rpm but even before I had a chance to press the stop-button it already came in my direction and I felt the hit on my right upper arm.
Normally you have the reflex to protect you with your hands when something coming in your direction. I don’t know if I miss this reflex or if I didn’t put my hand in this direction because my brain already knew that I’m in a bad situation. Anyway, for good luck I just opened my right hand and go back so the engine fall in my direction on the harness and kept running.
I began to curse cause how stupid I am to do this terrible mistake, touched my right arm with the left hand and directly felt the fingers going in deep into the meat. Because it’s on the side of my arm I was not able to really see it but in this moment I knew it’s not only a scratch but a disaster. I went back to my engine which was still running on high rpm and for good luck I was easily able to reach the throttle and kill the engine.
The accident itself happened in milliseconds after I started the engine. All together from pulling the starter to kill the engine finally took only a few seconds.
●Always start your engine on your back. It will give you at least a little bit more time so you have a chance to kill it.
●If you start a trike always sit inside! If you stand next to it, you have no chance to hold it back.
●Always do full check not only of propeller, exhaust… but also of throttle cable. I learned that it’s not enough to check it for free movement. You also need to make sure it’s in original position.
●When you have a problem and you can’t do it as usual take a break and check again everything cause here normally start a fatal row of mistake which cause a accident.
What will I change in the future?
1. I will do a more detailed pre-flight check than I did in the past
2. Looking for a Safe-Start Modul that controlls Max RPM during first minute
3. If I ever need to start a engine on the ground again I will fix the propeller to a strong part of the frame so it will only stop running or destroy the clutch when the engine want to go to full power. This can be very expensive, but think about how much money it costs if you loose a hand, if you can’t continue working… Of course this only works with clutch motors.
There are so called „Safe-Start-Moduls“ from different manufacturers on the market like Scout or FlyHenry. A electronic device controlls the rpm level during the first minute of the engine running and kills the engine when it’s higher than a definied level.
Connect Propeller to Frame
If you have a Motor with clutch you can just take a strong strap and connect your propeller to a strong part of the frame. If your engine wants to go to high rpm after start it will stop when the clutch opens or it will destroy the clutch… But you are still safe and you can pay your lesson with money not with blood. I will make a propeller cover with a belt when my arm is full working again.
I wish you all the best, stay safe and always happy landings
See you in the air 😉