A pilot in Ireland watched as his vintage propeller plane took off on its own, narrowly avoiding a house before hitting an electric fence and bursting into flames.
The chain of events were set in motion when the 54-year-old pilot set the throttle “a little too high,” switched the ignition to on, and hand-started the engine, according to The Irish Times.
He reported the July 5 incident to Ireland's Air Accident Investigation Unit, which released a report on Wednesday, according to Independent.ie. He told investigators he had been in a hurry, and had not chocked the wheels of the Piel CP301A.
Although the pilot followed the aircraft (as it traveled about 70 meters, or 230 feet) on foot, he was at a safe distance when the plane burst into flames. There were no injuries.
According to the report, hand-swinging a propeller has been the cause of previous incidents as well.
“Hand swinging an aircraft propeller is recognised across the aviation industry as a hazardous procedure,” the report stated, citing an Australian Air Transport Safety Board report.
“Although hand swinging is permitted under the civil aviation regulations, it should only be undertaken when no other alternatives exist to start the aircraft engine and all necessary precautions have been taken to mitigate the hazards.”
While this must have been a terrible day for the pilot, Ireland's investigation unit applauded his “willingness to have the occurrence highlighted for safety purposes.”