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This is ridiculous!!

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Well-known member
Nov 26, 2001
Seattle Hand-Proppers Beware!
Hand-propping an airplane has become dangerous business in Seattle recently. Aside from the obvious safety precautions needed, certain situations could even land you in jail! Apparently, there is a section in the King County code that applies (to some extent) to the hand-propping of aircraft. Title 15, Section 15.16.110 of the code states, "Except aircraft in control of authorized maintenance shops, no aircraft engine should be started or run unless a pilot or mechanic is attending the controls." The notion often appears as common sense -- not so often as law. However, this poses a problem for single-seat aircraft not equipped with starters. One pilot, who has such an airplane, found out the consequences of this rather strange ordinance. After starting his aircraft, he was issued a citation by a deputy sheriff. Marked as a criminal offense, the citation was entered into the court system, where the pilot was forced to attend an arraignment. The judge seemed baffled at receiving such a case, mixed among the usual salvo of others including murder, rape and armed robbery. Because the criminal case is still pending, the pilot chose to remain anonymous but contacted EAA for help. The organization told AVweb that it is "very surprised that, after being informed of this issue, the FAA Seattle FSDO has not jumped in to help this general aviation aircraft owner." AVweb was not able to reach King County officials prior to our deadline. Meanwhile, the pilot awaits his criminal court trial date
This sort of thing has gone to federal court before and has been thrown out on jurisdictional basis. Communities who try to enforce noise abatement or minimum overflight laws usually lose in court. It's harder to tell about this one, since the plane is not actually "in flight" per the FAA definition.

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