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Pilot injured in SLO after engine starts, plane rolls while he’s fixing it

A private single-engine aircraft began moving while a pilot was working on it and rolled into a grassy area between runways on Friday. The man was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.
A private single-engine aircraft began moving while a pilot was working on it and rolled into a grassy area between runways on Friday. The man was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

A single-engine plane accident at San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport sent a pilot to the hospital Friday morning.

The man was working on a private plane with the engine still running about 11 a.m. when the aircraft began to move, said Chris Elms, a Cal Fire spokesman. The plane rolled across taxiways and a grassy area before coming to a stop between runways.

Witness Darin Spiegel said in an email that he was at the airport about to go flying when he saw the incident. He said the pilot was trying to turn the engine over manually to fix a stuck propeller.

Spiegel said he believes the pilot accidentally had the plane’s magnetos — a type of ignition system — in the “on” position, which is why the engine started running while he was fixing the plane.

“When the magnetos are off, you can spin the propeller by hand, and it won’t start,” he wrote. “But if they are on, there is a chance that the engine could start. In this case, it did, and the pilot was attempting to stop the plane.”

After the accident, the man was “showing signs of a concussion and bleeding heavily from his head and ear,” Spiegel wrote.

Elms said the pilot suffered minor injuries during the incident and was taken to the hospital. Cal Fire turned the incident scene over to airport staff to be investigated, he said.

Clarification: An earlier version of this story had incorrect information about how the incident occurred.

Lindsey Holden: 805-781-7939, @lindseyholden27

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