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2000 Personal Accounts
The Darwin Awards salutes the spirit portrayed in the following personal accounts, submitted by loyal (and sometimes reluctant) readers. Next


Prop Arc Safety  
2000 Personal Account

I remember a safety standown story that was a favorite of everyone. Ten years ago I was an enlisted naval air crewman working in the turbo-prop-driven aircraft P-3 community. As with every type of aircraft, there are safety zones to observe around a P-3, particularly in the vicinity of the props. Under no circumstances are you to walk through a prop arc, whether the plane is alive or dead.

During a late night pre-flight, one flight engineer was on his visual walkaround when he walked right through a spinning prop untouched! But he instantly realized what he had done and did a 180 right back into the prop, and was killed. Many witnessed him do this and saw his expression the instant he turned around... © 1994 - 2012
Submitted by: Chad Johnson
Reference: NATOPS safety mishaps

Awful? 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Great?
Hate it! Love it!

Vince Pascucci says, "I don't believe this story. Consider a prop idling at 200 RPM, which is quite slow. (500 to 600 is more realistic). It would complete a full 360 degree rotation every 0.3 seconds. Now, a P3 has a four-bladed prop so a blade swings past any given point every four times for a full rotation, or every 0.075 seconds in this example. If we assume the man was walking at a fast 4 mph, he is moving about 70 inches/second. So in the time it takes for one blade to make a quarter of an arc (0.075 sec) the man moves forward about 5 inches. Assuming that one blade just brushes his nose, then his head must be completely beyond the prop before the next blade comes by. At his walking speed he'll move forward just 5 inches in that time. So unless his head is less than 5 inches thick from the tip of his nose to the back of his skull, the next blade is going to hit him. And all this assumes a slow prop speed, a fast pace, and perfect timing."

Jeff says, "I am in the Navy, and being a bit sensible, I know it is virtually impossible for anyone to walk through a spinning prop untouched. The revolutions per minute of the blades even at idle would be impossible to walk through. It is possible that he walked in between the fuselage of the aircraft and the spinning prop the first time, a highly discouraged practice, before meeting his untimely demise on the turnaround. Try to clarify exactly what happened in this accident, instead of making it sound like this flight engineer was some type of Houdini."

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