Non-Pilot In The Cockpit Could Not Control The Cessna 172 After The Engine Was Started
You don't often hear about someone attempting to hand-prop a Cessna 172, but its certainly something that's possible. What an 80-year-old airplane owner discovered was that it's probably also a good idea to have someone at least familiar with the airplane in the cockpit when the engine catches.
The inexperienced airplane occupant was Steward van Bibber, who had expressed an interest in buying the 172 (similar airplane pictured in file photo) from its owner, 80-year-old Roger Taylor. Van Bibber wanted to take a demonstration flight, and so on April 3rd, the two met at Vally Vista Airport in Johnson Valley, CA.
According to a report in the Press Enterprise of Riverside, CA, when the two got to the airport, they discovered that the 172's battery was dead, so Taylor decided to hand-prop the airplane. He instructed van Bibber in how to hold the brakes and operate the throttle, and stepped out of the airplane to swing the prop.
The engine caught, but then the airplane started to move. Van Bibber was unable to control the airplane, or shut it down, and Taylor was unable to get back aboard. Taylor got out of the way as the Cessna rolled down an slight incline, gaining speed, and then plowed through a neighbors hedge, crashing into a solar array at the house.
In his accident report, Taylor said he had told van Bibber "to apply the brakes, but he pushed the throttle wide open." The plane traveled all of about 200 feet before impacting the hedge and solar panels.