Preventing Towbar Trouble

Photo credit: Bogert Aviation

If you've been flying for a while, you probably know of at least one person in your circle of friends who has made a very expensive mistake — starting up the engine with the towbar attached. It is a simple error but one that could cost you a new propeller and an engine overhaul.

There have even been images posted on social media of airplanes taking off with the towbar still attached. Imagine taking a stroll with your dog only to have a towbar suddenly drop from the skies. The NIMBYs trying to shut down your precious local airport would have a heyday!

To prevent this embarrassing, expensive and potentially dangerous mistake, all you have to do is follow one rule: Keep the hand on the towbar! Any time you are either parking the airplane or pulling it out of the hangar or parking spot, remove the towbar as soon as you have the airplane in its spot and put it in the luggage compartment.

The procedure may add about 30 seconds to your preflight as you have to make a special trip to the back of the airplane. However, those seconds will be well worth it because if you stick to this simple rule you will never start up your airplane with the towbar attached.

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Pia Bergqvist joined FLYING in December 2010. A passionate aviator, Pia started flying in 1999 and quickly obtained her single- and multi-engine commercial, instrument and instructor ratings. After a decade of working in general aviation, Pia has accumulated almost 3,000 hours of flight time in nearly 40 different types of aircraft.

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