Prop Arcs and Complacency

Many, many years ago when I was flying old Grumman S-2E Trackers off the USS Randolph then the USS Yorktown, there was a general policy that no one ever walked through the arc a propeller would make, even, of course, while the engine is not running (duh!).   In 1970, I was in the US

Many, many years ago when I was flying old Grumman S-2E Trackers off the USS Randolph then the USS Yorktown, there was a general policy that no one ever walked through the arc a propeller would make, even, of course, while the engine is not running (duh!).  

In 1970, I was in the US Navy Reserve flying the Lockheed P2-V Neptune out of NAS Millington just north of Memphis, TN. For our two weeks active duty time, the VP-67 squadron flew five P2-Vs to NAS Barbers Point, Hawaii. “Laxing” on the beach one Saturday, one of the sailors came up to me to ask if I would take an airplane over to another island for something. I told him that I could not, because I had already been indulging in a few cold adult beverages. He’d have to find another pilot. As it turned out, a skeleton crew was put together for the flight, which included our E-9, Leading Chief Smith (not his real name) as the crew chief. He was a PhD and the superintendent of education of a large city in Tennessee, a very intelligent and experienced crewman in P2-Vs.

An uneventful flight was made to the other island. On its return to the NAS, crew chief Smith exited the airplane as per his duty to inspect the bomb bay and wheel wells for hydraulic leaks. The engines of the Pratt &Whitney R-3350s with huge 14-foot diameter, four-blade props were still turning at 900 RPM. Chief Smith walked right through the prop arc of the portside engine, which promptly sent him all over the base. 

The moral of the story is obvious. It makes little difference how safety conscious you think you are. It is so easy for us to get complacent working around our ag-planes while the engine is turning. I bet the majority of you who have been in the business for at least a few years know of an instance or two where someone did get hit by a turning prop or almost did. So, In My Opinion, I think it would be a good idea to establish a policy for your ag flying service that no one ever walks through the arc of a propeller. Complacency around ag-airplanes may be the most insidious danger of all.

And so as per usual, be safe, have fun and make money. 

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