Motor unit fire
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Highest rating held at the time of the incident:
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Paramotor Frame: Kangook Classic Black Bull with
July 16, 2018
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Type of Incident:
While running up the engine immediately prior to inflation, I heard an unfamiliar noise that sounded like a prop strike. I immediately killed the engine. Another pilot looked at the motor on my back and said that the manual starter had failed somehow. I took it back to my truck and began to remove the harness so I could remove the manual starter and proceed with just the electric starter. Part way through the process I noticed melted plastic falling onto the gas tank. The gas tank still had about 6L of fuel. I pulled the motor unit off the truck and put it on the ground. It looked like the internal nylon spindle of the manual starter was melting. I went looking for something to catch the melted nylon to avoid it burning into the gas tank. I found a wood plank and placed it on top of the gas tank so that the melted nylon would run down the board and away from the gas tank. About this time the inside of the manual starter caught fire. I did not have a fire extinguisher in my truck and could not find one. I called 911 and told the dispatcher to send a fire truck. Soon one of the fuel lines burst and the motor unit caught fire from the spilled fuel. Another pilot found a fire extinguisher and I was able to put out the fire with it, at about the time the fire truck arrived. The engine itself doesn’t seem to have been damaged. The frame is burned but salvageable. The wiring, battery, fuel tank, reserve, harness, and anything else plastic was destroyed.
The moral of the story is carry a fire extinguisher with you. If I had been able to extinguish it when the nylon first caught fire I probably would have been able to save the unit. It was a good thing that I didn’t walk away from it completely, otherwise the fire might have started while it was still on the truck. Even more fortunate was that I aborted the launch as soon as I heard something unusual, or this could have all been happening in the air.
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