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Person walked into the propeller of the small aircraft

A 23-year-old Plano woman was severely injured Sunday by the propeller of a small aircraft at McKinney's Aero Country Airport in west McKinney. Shortly after landing at about 9:30 p.m., Lauren Scruggs walked into the propeller of the small aircraft she had been riding in and was struck by the propeller in the upper body. Scruggs was taken to a local hospital where she is in stable condition. According to Scruggs' Caring Bridge page, her left hand was amputated and she also underwent… ( More...

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jeff reeder 0
I was witness to a similar incident in 2008. Man didn't survive, he was a pilot and had been around airplanes all his life. He was a passenger for this day but was just impatient and walked out of plane. It was a C-210 which doesn't have a wing strut and the landing gear is BEHIND the door so there wasn't anything preventing someone to walk straight forward. Only good thing out of that incident was he was dead before he hit the ground (he didn't suffer).
Jeffrey Babey 0
So very sad, I just cringed when I read this story earlier. From a happy night of looking at Christmas lights to years of reconstructive surgery.
Toby Sharp 0
Prayers coming your way girl, mucho take it easy and rest
Toby Sharp 0
note to pilots.......just trying to learn from others' misfortunes......shut down while switching passengers....epsecially in a 150 or 152.
Kingair31 0
Especially in anything regardless of size.
99NY 0
Ok, thats bad that she got injured but come on now. You are riding in a propeller plane. The propeller is on the front. Why the hell would anyone get out of a plane with the engine still running and actually go towards the front?

A few more RPM on that prop and she'd be shoo-in nominee for the Darwin award.
brian wright 0
Can I follow you around for a day and report all of the 'stupid' things you do?
99NY 0
Sure thing hoss! I'll guarantee you it wont invovle me walking into a spinning prop, putting my hand into a running blender or reaching under a running lawn mower!

It might however involve the foul spectre of the feared half-asleep pouring of coffee into my cup, my thermos and then into my cereal...
Kingair31 0
Seriously? You actually said that? People that don't fly know nothing about airplanes.....absolutely nothing. The PIC is responsible for the safe exit of his pax regardless of where the propeller is. Fact. The pilot is responsible for this accident. Period.
Martin Weaver 0
As soon as non-pilots cross over to our side of the fence, we are always responsible for their safety.
sseeplane 0
Amen Mr. Weaver. This type of accident happens too often. I'm surprised the "Light Tour" didn't include a ground handler like we do for Young Eagles. Only an idiot blames the victim.
chuck416 0
Nobody has said it any better...I am a bit relieved, as I read this story, that so many aviators have expressed their outrage over this. This type of incident occurs FAR too often, and is so easiy avoided. To think of this in a "positive" light--when swapping out passengers, think of it as an opportunity to practice your 'hot-start' proceedure. If you aren't aware of HOW to perform a hot-start, this would be a great time to learn. My initial reaction is to call this pilot all kinds of vile, evil names, but I imagine that he has been living with a truck-load of guilt for the past several days......So easily avoided, and so terribly life-changing. Be safe out there.
john cook 0
We all agree! Well most of us.
jfflyboy 0
The responsibility lands entirely on the pilot for this one. Passengers surely know that there is a prop spinning up front, but they may have no clue that the arc extends far beyond the cowling. That doesn't make the passenger in any way stupid. She was obviously uneducated on the dangers. The responsibility of educating her lands squarely on the pilot. It is an unfortunate accident for sure. I hope GA can learn from this.
john baugh 0
Shutting the engine off has been the law for 15 or 20 years now. I hope the pilot loses all his ratings and is grounded for a couple of years. Prayers out to the young lady, it was not her fault at all.
John Navratil 0

I don't recall this from the FAR's. I didn't find it in a cursory search. This is news I can use, can anyone cite it, please?
John Grant 0
When I was in high school I almost has this happen to a friend. I was giving rides to several people in a J3 and as one girl was exiting the plane she tried to go forward. My dad grabbed her arm and directed her away from the prop. But being raised around a crop dusting strip on the farm we were around running props all the time. They never shut down for us to load the chemicals or fertilizer into the hoppers. I still have visions of what could have happened and was lucky to have my dad (an ag pilot) there for an escort for the passengers. But now I would never have a non pilot or inexperienced person around a running prop.
Paul Slonaker 0
The pilot should have shut the engine down but also the passenger should have had enough sense to not walk into the prop. Unless she is deaf, she should have been able to hear the engine running as well as the prop "popping" while it is turning. Myself...I will not allow my paseners to get out until the prop has come to a complete stop on a single or a twin. It somewhat irritates them when in the turbine, but thats too bad. No one gets wacked with a spinning prop, but I have had a few dumbasses walk into a non-spinning prop because they were not paying attention to what they were doing. As for this accident...I place 75% of the blame on the pilot for not shutting the engine down and 25% on the passenger for the lack of common sense.
Gary Olson 0
I recall the days when I flew C-124 Globemasters. One of the most dangerous moments around that aircraft was at night, with all four engines running, and STROBE lights lighting the area.....problem was! The Strobes made it appear the props were NOT turning. More than one MX man has walked into a turning R-4360 Prop and never survived. I recall too, having to get out of the aircraft under these circumstances to free a Driftmeter (right next to the turning prop with those strobes shining). It was "hypnotic" to look at that prop knowing it was turning - and feeling like it was "sucking" you in....I'll never forget those experiences. Not sure to this day, so many years later, but that the type of night lighting on the ramp may not make props appear to not be turning when in fact they are. One rule I always flew by - any passenger departing an aircraft ALWAYS move to the tail of the aircraft first, and then head away from the aircraft. NEVER walk thru the arc of a Prop - I don't care what the circumstance might be. My advice would have to include looking around your HBO and see what type of lighting and its' effect on props running at night.
Gary Olson 0
I recall when we flew the C-124 Globemaster, parked on a ramp with the engines running in preparation for departure, the aircraft was flooded with "strobe lighting" which made the props look like they were NOT turning. It was a very unsettling feeling moving around the aircraft in this environment. My advice would be to check what type of lighting may be used at night at your FBO/Club - second - A MUST is NEVER allow someone to exit an aircraft toward the prop. We used to have a rule - "walk straight out from the trailing edge of the wing before making any turns toward the hanger/office, etc..
This is really sad because she was flying with an idiot. In my 45y of flying, I have met many of them. You always, always, shut down the eng. before any one even leaves the plane. I hope she is doing well and that she does not look down on the general aviation because of one idiot.
jzimmerman71 0
Always amazing to see the "haters" that come out and post hurtful things about something they have no idea about. You know who you are.

If you aren't familiar with being around an operating propeller, you don't even think about running into it until it happens. Those of us who operate these aircraft have (hopefully) learned that by reading the accident reports. It is the pilot's responsibility to know their passenger's experience level and take every precaution to ensure their safety. Period. The aircraft should have been shut down, especially at night. The only way I would allow a passenger to exit my aircraft with a running propeller would be if my passenger was a pilot and even then I would remind them to remain aft of the door they are exiting. Even then I probably wouldn't allow it at night.

Very sad accident and I hope future lives are saved by pilots learning from yet another tragic accident.
Paul Nolte 0
Prayers go out to her and her family. More info...
My prayers are with you.
Wow, I've had nightmares about that. Hope everything goes well for the young Lady, my prayers go out to the Family.
Dan Schutte 0
Thank God for miracles!!!!
In my 50 years of flying from my days as a little kid flying with my Dad I never saw anyone swap passingers with the engine running I am so sorry for her and for all of GA we will all suffer fot this mistake
Aaron Burkhard 0
As a fight instructor, please shut down the engine before anyone moves around the aircraft. Its not worth a situation such as this one from happening. Oh, and dont think it cant happen to pilots either; many pilots, including flight instructors have been injured or killed this way.
tsberry901 0
The pilot should have known better than to let any passenger out with the engine running. I smell lawsuit.
Ant Miraa 0
Ouch. That brings to mind getting off a heli and not crouching.
Being an "old" heli pilot it is true that most main rotors can dip to a height low enough to get you. In Nam most got hit by the tailrotor as it is just like a spinning prop-pretty much invisible. Most were crew and maintainence personell too, who should have been mindful.
I agree with Kingair31, the PIC is responsible for what ever happens in his or her's aircraft. Hopefully all of us learned a lesson here. Safety should be #1 no matter what. We should always educate our pasengers, and brief before and after everyflight. So sorry for Lauren. She could have been doing other things right about now instead of laying in a bed in a Hospital.
George Robledo 0
That first day I went solo in a sport cruiser my instructor told me to stop as we approached the hanger. So I stopped. He then told me he was getting out and that I was to go on my solo. Thinking ahead the first thing I did was shut down the engine. He walked away saying have fun and when he was clear to safe distance I yelled out "Clear Prop" started the engine and went on my solo. It's the sole responsibility of the PIC for the safety of the passengers and any one else on the ground near the plane. That's it..... Pilot Error !
George Robledo 0
The day came for my first solo and prior to reaching the hanger my instructor said stop the plane and let me out you're going to solo now. I stopped and before I let him out I shut down the engine. He said go have fun I know you can do this. When he was safely clear of the plane I yelled out "Clear Prop" and restarted the engine and went solo. I have to say that the pilot is at fault. It's the PIC who is responsible for the safety of the passengers and also anyone on the ground close to the aircraft. It's a sad situation I pray for her recovery. sorry but it's called "Pilot Error"
NO! In that situation you turn off the key. When the mixture is pulled, the engine will continue to run till the remaining gas in the fuel line after the mixture is burned. In fact, unless the mixture was leaned for ground operation, the engine will speed up slightly as the mixture leans to best A/F ratio. When the key is turned off, the engine stops almost immediately.
Sorry, this was supposed to be a reply to John Navratil's comment about a kid breaking away from a parent and running toward a spinning prop.
John Navratil 0

You are quite right (unless the P-lead is broken) and I thought of it afterwards. However, when all hell is breaking loose you don't always have time to engineer the optimum solution.

In the case of killing the mags, we are trained not to shut down the engine in that way to avoid spectacular explosions of unburned fuel. It was the right thing to do in this case, but, as this pilot and his poor passenger found out, the right thing doesn't always come to mind. Killing the mags didn't come to mind for me at that useful moment. I won't repeat the error, but I've got a dollar that says the chance to do so will never come again.
A spinning prop and non aviation types around ( especially kids) makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Good luck to her
Jeremy Kudlick 0
Perfect example of the importance of situational awareness at all times, especially around aircraft. I'm not placing fault on the victim, since the pilot should also have noticed she was walking forward rather than laterally. Pax transfers with running engines are dangerous enough during the day, but are even worse at night.
tim mitchell 0
I pray that she will be alright
Jeffrey Babey 0
You and I both Tim.
Greg Landes 0
I agree I always shut down when I drop off my wife and kids near the car before I head to the hangar to park the plane. 6 year olds like to get out and run.
Elfyn Hanks 0
I hope she makes as full a recovery as she can, but im sorry this is just another example of the lack of common sense people seem to have in the world today. If the engine was running even a idle it would still be making a noise that you could hear so how do you walk into the prop blade without thinking better stay away from that.

@ Martin Weaver Yes i agree the pilot is responsible for saftey of passengers in and around the plane but they should be able to count on us non-pilots using a little common sense.
USMA61 0
Sad incident for sure! I hope and pray the young lady will be okay. You could ask both the passenger as well as the pilot, "What did you learn from this experience?" instead of "What happened?" and then use their comments to alert anyone else in future airplane rides to the hazard. Always shut the power off completely before opening the door to allow your passengers to deplane. Always!
preacher1 0
It is easy for a pilot to get complacent, especially in a deal like this where he is just swapping pax to look at the lights. That being said, this is exactly why when you are flying as a PAX on a SAAB or ATR of some type, that the hatch side engine will be shut down on taxi in and the prop completely stopped prior to the hatch opening. Of course that is efficiency for the Airline as well for unloading but it is a hellacious safety factor as well
Paul Claxon 0
That always scared me when meeting someone at an airport. I would cut the engine while still coasting to park.
Paul Claxon 0
I have even heard of flight instructors walking into props.
preacher1 0
When a prop is spinning at engine RPM, it is not that visible. Common sense and vigilance has to apply. Pilot is in charge of his Airplane. Why do you think the call is for CLEAR, prior to engine start. Same thing applies to Jets running if they are underwing and running high. You can't see the suction but it is there.
al fredericks 0
JUST TRAGIC for such a young women. her life has been altered in its infentcy.GOD BE WITH HER AND HER FAMILY
Bless the poor girl ,I feel so sorry for her and her family , and also it must be said for the pilot , whose responsability she was .
bbabis 0
A spinning prop is invisible and it only takes a split second of inattention to walk into it if its in the path toward your intended destination. Always shut down engines when people are to move about an aircraft.

My prayers are for her recovery.
Jim Quinn 0
Safety, Safety, Safety! It's all about safety! Pilots must assume that someone could walk into a prop, especially at night when it's essentially invisible. I cannot believe that the pilot was not at the controls but was assisting passengers according to the report. I hate to play Monday morning quarterback, but it seems that this disaster could (and should) have been prevented. It's a horrible tragedy, and both the victim and the pilot will never be the same... Yes, the passenger wasn't the brightest crayon in the box but she also was not an aviator. When it comes right down to it, the pilot ultimately is responsible. I feel for him...
Pileits 0
Pilots just shut down the engine everytime, why risk other peoples lives. Replacing starters and batteries is cheap compared to human life!
Exactly. I can't fathom why anyone would allow a passenger to exit an aircraft with the prop still turning. It only takes a split second of inattention or distraction...

I'm not trying to put the blame on the girl, since passenger safety is the pilot's responsibility, but personally I would never approach or exit an aircraft while the prop is turning.
preacher1 0
Those are little details that the Pilot is supposed to know, and that PAX don't even think about. Other question, if he was assisting other pax waiting for the ride, WHY did he not assist her clera of the AC?
Jim Quinn 0
Fox News just interviewed the family spokesperson (a close friend of the victim) who said that after the passenger walked away from the aircraft she turned back to again thank the pilot when she walked into the prop. I still don't understand how a spinning prop and running engine couldn't make enough noise to alert her to the danger. How horrible!
indy2001 0
A good friend from college witnessed somebody being shredded by a propeller at Islip while he was a teenager and just starting to earn his wings. It almost killed his dream right there. However, he was able to get over it and pursue his life's ambition as an airline pilot. But whenever I went flying with him, he wouldn't even let me open the door until the prop had stopped spinning. And that's a practice that I adopted when I started flying. Even on that memorable day when my instructor said "drop me off here -- you're going to solo", I made him sit there until the prop stopped spinning. Always better safe than sorry.
Kingair31 0
The aircraft was not shut down prior to her exiting why? Thats right, they didn't want to shut it down because that took a checklist and time.....senseless and lazy period.
Thoughts and prayers go to her. ONCE AGAIN, Pilots are not paying attention. Shut it down, and save a life. I know we're not perfect but what is it going to take for people to stop doing stupid things that get people hurt. Its just making things worse for others trying to enjoy the GIFT of flying.
A lot of you guys are saying this is a darwin award. I think not. she left the plane while the engine was running and walked forward ( assuming she was going to the exit of the airport). The prop is spinning which makes it hard to see in the first place, mind you from behind there's no white "spinner arc" (the tips of the prop are painting only on the side of the prop that faces away from the pilot) for her to see. I'm assuming she doesn't fly in small places often and would guarantee that's why she walked where she did. She was unfamiliar with the proper procedures and couldn't see the prop given the conditions
preacher1 0
Having made a couple of comments already and looking through all these, it is apparent that there are enough mistakes here to go around. From the initial reports and subsequent news reports, this guy was giving rides around to people to see Christmas lights; whether paid or just with friends/family, it matters not. One report says that he was assisting other pax? Mistake 1-he left the plane both running and unattended. Mistake 2 - she came back to thank him again after her ride. This goes back to mistake #1, the plane was running and unattended and her being, if you will, a civilian, had no recognition of her area and it being dark, just wandered into the prop. Can we say ACCIDENT? Unfortunate, but that is what it was, BUT, it all stems back to mistake#1
jkats 0
Why would a pilot drop off and load passingers with the prop spinning? This sad accident is receiving much attention in the press. It will be a black eye for all GA.
vanbess 0
Seems to me this was a rush decision, I would say that common sense would dictate don't open the doors unless the large dangerous heavy metal/wood fan is STOPPED (ie. Not spinning). Her attorneys will have fun on this one -- some think the strut is enough to stop someone from going forward I remember reading about a 10 or 12 year old girl who had got out of grandpa's 210 to unlock the hangar, he used the landing lights to give her some light and she walked right into a three blade and lived to tell with similar injuries. I would rather use my starter than risk a life.
Troy Raiteri 0
I would've shut down the engine on right when I parked. This is the PICs fault of this incident the propeller is indeed invisible when at a high RPM but still it's his fault for not turning it off...
Chip Hermes 0
This happens all the time...interesting how it happens to a young blonde girl and it's national news.
greenbaron 0
I agree, it happens with such regularity that it's hard to understand some of the comments here indicating disbelief that someone could actually walk right into a spinning prop. And yes, it does make a compelling story, the fact that this was an attractive, young woman who was a model, apparently, injured so badly that the medical professionals first on the scene did not expect her to survive. The fact that there are people out there who can't imagine how this could ever happen just highlights the need for this and more stories like it to make national news. For all those PIC's that don't make it to the safety seminars...
Ralph Wigzell 0
Sad news. I hope she has the strength to deal with her injuries. Aircrew should give a thorough briefing to all pax and should not allow pax to exit or approach an aircraft when the propeller is turning unless there is a qualified ground technician or marshaller to escort them. I know how the pilot must feel...this happened to one of my pax who was a pilot on an orientation flight. He survived without debilitating injuries...the engines were spooling down when he walked through the prop.
John Navratil 0
To those who ask "how did this happen?": The prop is invisible when spinning, especially at night. The engine is noisy, the prop blast is unfamiliar, the unfamiliar passenger is overloaded sensually. Common sense is very uncommon in such a situation.

To those who say "always shut down": Good advice and a great rule. However, there are always ways to make everyone's life safer. We could add a ground escort. There's no reason the passenger can't walk into someone else's propeller. It doesn't take too much imagination to come up with a scenario where someone must enter or exit the aircraft with the prop running (I'll stipulate this doesn't appear to be one). When this is necessary, a serious briefing to the exiting passenger is needed.

Now, what do you do when your 8-year-old nephew bolts from his mother and runs directly to your arriving aircraft? You yank the mixture, yank the prop, pray, and only after those are completed, you change your shorts.
NO! In THIS situation, you turn off the key as fast as possible. When the mixture is pulled, there is still fuel in the lines after the mixture control, and the engine will contiune to run for a few seconds till that fuel is exhausted! In fact, unless the mixture has been leaned for taxi, the engine will slightly speed up just before it stops. If the key is turned off, the engine will immediately stop after just a few revolutions. To ensure safety, after the danger is over, restart the engine and then pull the mixture to drain all fuel from the lines between the mixture control and the cylinders.
egnilk66 0
I agree. The sad part is that common sense is all too uncommon these days.


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