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Airplane Flying Handbook
Ground Operations

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Airplane Flying Handbook


Table of Contents

Chapter 1,Introduction to Flight Training
Chapter 2,Ground Operations
Chapter 3,Basic Flight Maneuvers
Chapter 4, Slow Flight, Stalls, and Spins
Chapter 5, Takeoff and Departure Climbs
Chapter 6, Ground Reference Maneuvers
Chapter 7, Airport Traffic Patterns
Chapter 8, Approaches and Landings
Chapter 9, Performance Maneuvers
Chapter 10, Night Operations
Chapter 11,Transition to Complex Airplanes
Chapter 12, Transition to Multiengine Airplanes
Chapter 13,Transition to Tailwheel Airplanes
Chapter 14, Transition to Turbo-propeller Powered Airplanes
Chapter 15,Transition to Jet Powered Airplanes
Chapter 16,Emergency Procedures



When activating the starter, one hand should be kept
on the throttle. This allows prompt response if the
engine falters during starting, and allows the pilot to
rapidly retard the throttle if revolutions per minute
(rpm) are excessive after starting. A low rpm
setting (800 to 1,000) is recommended immediately
following engine start. It is highly undesirable to allow
the rpm to race immediately after start, as there will
be insufficient lubrication until the oil pressure rises.
In freezing temperatures, the engine will also be
exposed to potential mechanical distress until it warms
and normal internal operating clearances are assumed.

As soon as the engine is operating smoothly, the oil
pressure should be checked. If it does not rise to the
manufacturer's specified value, the engine may not be
receiving proper lubrication and should be shut down
immediately to prevent serious damage.

Although quite rare, the starter motor may remain on
and engaged after the engine starts. This can be
detected by a continuous very high current draw on the
ammeter. Some airplanes also have a starter engaged
warning light specifically for this purpose. The engine
should be shut down immediately should this occur.

Starters are small electric motors designed to draw
large amounts of current for short periods of cranking.
Should the engine fail to start readily, avoid
continuous starter operation for periods longer than 30
seconds without a cool down period of at least 30
seconds to a minute (some AFM/POH specify even
longer). Their service life is drastically shortened from
high heat through overuse.

Even though most airplanes are equipped with electric
starters, 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 should not 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
may be placed in front of the main wheels. If this is
not feasible, the airplane's tail may be securely tied.
Never allow a person unfamiliar with the controls to
occupy the pilot's seat when hand propping. The
procedure should never be attempted alone.

When hand propping is necessary, the ground surface
near the propeller should be stable and free of debris.
Unless a firm footing is available, consider relocating
the airplane. Loose gravel, wet grass, mud, oil, ice, or
snow might cause the person pulling the propeller
through to slip into the rotating blades as the engine

Both participants should discuss the procedure and
agree on voice commands and expected action. To
begin the procedure, the fuel system and engine
controls (tank selector, primer, pump, throttle, and
mixture) are set for a normal start. The ignition/
magneto switch should be checked to be sure that it is
OFF. Then the descending propeller blade should be
rotated so that it assumes a position slightly above the
horizontal. The person doing the hand propping should
face the descending blade squarely and stand slightly
less than one arm's length from the blade. If a stance
too far away were assumed, it would be necessary to
lean forward in an unbalanced condition to reach the
blade. This may cause the person to fall forward into
the rotating blades when the engine starts.

The procedure and commands for hand propping are:

  • Person out front says, "GAS ON, SWITCH OFF,
  • Pilot seat occupant, after making sure the fuel is
    ON, mixture is RICH, ignition/magneto switch is
    OFF, throttle is CLOSED, and brakes SET, says,
  • Person out front, after pulling the propeller
    through to prime the engine says, "BRAKES
  • Pilot seat occupant checks the brakes SET and
    turns the ignition switch ON, then says,

The propeller is swung by forcing the blade downward
rapidly, pushing with the palms of both hands. If the
blade is gripped tightly with the fingers, the person's
body may be drawn into the propeller blades should
the engine misfire and rotate momentarily in the
opposite direction. As the blade is pushed down, the
person should step backward, away from the propeller.
If the engine does not start, the propeller should not be
repositioned for another attempt until it is certain the
ignition/magneto switch is turned OFF.
The words CONTACT (mags ON) and SWITCH OFF
(mags OFF) are used because they are significantly
different from each other. Under noisy conditions or
high winds, the words CONTACT and SWITCH OFF
are less likely to be misunderstood than SWITCH ON