O’Grady’s “Oh Sh#$” Saturday

Kevin O’Grady of Dublin, Ohio probably wished he had been in the other Dublin on Saturday, October 15 rather than at Packer Field (5E9) trying to fly his 1964 Piper PA28-235 (N8746W).

Unable to start the low-wing single the usual way (battery ON, mixture RICH, prime, pump throttle, yell “CLEAR”, engage ignition switch), O’Grady decided to hand-prop the aircraft. He suspected the “starter drive gear was not engaging the propeller ring gear,” according to the NTSB report on what happened next.

NTSB: “As he rotated the propeller, the engine started and the unoccupied airplane proceeded across the airport, colliding with a hangar.”

Here’s O’Grady’s diagram of the action.


runaway plane 3.JPG

The aftermath in person was much messier than the paper cartoon.

In O’Grady’s words: “While rotating the prop, the engine started causing the aircraft to race across the field striking a hangar, destroying the aircraft, shearing off both wings and coming to a stop”.

runaway plane 2.JPG 

Along with the PA28 getting hammered (picture below), a Stearman B75N1 in the unlucky hangar received damage to both its wings and its engine.

runaway plane 1.JPG 

Post-crash forensics revealed the flaws in Mr. O’Grady’s procedure: He had turned off the master and “thought” he turned off the magnetos, but realized when looking at the wreckage that he had in fact:

  • left one magneto ON
  • left the mixture and throttle in the FULL ON position
  • Left the parking brake OFF

The good news? No people were injured (pride excluded), and a toy Stearman in the corner looked to be unharmed, as were the cool nose art pix on the wall.


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