Mike Bennett tells of his incident

My friend Mike Bennett was injured while flying alone at the Snowflake sports Park.   He asked me and the couple of other guys who knew to keep it quiet and to give him some space.  
Today he came out and here it is …. Thanks Mike

Well I will stir things up. Some of you know I had a little accident this past labor day where my spinning prop met with the side of my head. Long story short, my engine was cutting out at higher RPM so I landed to adjust the carb. I had the motor running and I verified that it was still cutting out and it was. I then took the engine back to idle and adjusted the high jet needle a 1/16 of a turn. I braced myself like I always have one foot on the bottom bar, left hand on the top tube of the frame and one foot back with the throttle in my right hand. Well I hit the throttle and it went to 8000 RPM’s in a split second. I was kinda not really ready for the instant on and by back foot slipped off a weed mound and I started to fall backwards. At that point the motor started to lift off the ground with only my left arm to hold it off. It seemed like slow motion as the motor was slowly coming towards but in reality I only had a split second to just turn my head to the side (instead of hitting me in the face) before being hit by the spinning prop.

Next thing I know I am on the ground laying on my back the motor is still running at idle laying on the J-bars and my head is buzzing big time and me left ear was ringing like it never before. I got the engine stopped and my first thought after that was I cut my ear off. So I checked my ear and it was still there but when I pulled my hand away it was covered in blood. My phone was next to me on the cargo carrier but I just could not dial the phone as my hands where shaking too much.

I was flying alone at Snowflake so I did the only thing I could think of which was to get in the car and head towards Rogers house. As I got in the car I saw my head in the rear view mirror and realized this is not good at all. I got in the sub and floored it up towards the house honking the horn the whole way. By the time I got to the house, Roger and Pat were already coming out. Their daughter who just happened to be visiting was a trauma ER nurse and took over right away. I was conscious the whole time and was doing great until the ambulance got there 25 minutes later.

The ride to the hospital was fun as well. The guy put two IV’s in my hand which was still sweaty from flying that morning and as he turned away for a minute to talk with the driver about the best way to get to the hospital, they popped out. So he had to put them back in and them put a third one in my arm. My head was pointed towards the front of the van so every time the driver hit the brakes all the blood in my body would start towards my head and it would just POUND. Anorther 25 minutes back to the hospital.

After the first CAT scan and getting stitched up (somewhere around 60 stitches), they told me I had a major concussion, some bleeding and bruising in my brain but it did not crack the skull. I spent 28 hours in ICU and with a second CAT scan, the bleeding and bruising had gone down so they sent me home.

Just over two months later I’m back to 100% other than a scar. The hair is growing back inside the scar already and by next year this time most of it would not even be visible so I am very lucky. So that is why I have not been flying  (at all) working on paramotors, talking on the forums nor did I tell many people about it until I was ready. Yes I will be flying again very soon with some changes. The first change is for the first few flights I will be trike-ing. However I have a few project going on like finishing a powder coating oven big enough to powder coat PPG frames. I have the standard black and I want to Change the color of the used trike I bought from Alex so I will not fly unil that is finished which is looking to be about the first of the year. Note: I will be offereing my powder coating services as well as continuing my PPG repair services to the PPG community for a reasonable price.

A couple things I learned in this process, first don’t fly alone. If I had got knocked out I could have bled to death. Second, always think that the engine will spin up faster than you are used too. Yes the throttle was not stuck but it spun up sooooo fast like I have never seem before, I got caught off guard, it can happen. Third make sure you are properly braced when taking a motor to full throttle. I plan to use my cargo carrier with the frame locked in before I make field adjustments again. Last is (at least for me), my wife really loves me. In the hospital I was saying I was done flying and bless her heart so said “Don’t say that, you know you love flying too much, just take a break and you will get back too it.” She also did say “However if you do anything like that again, you are done flying!”

I have pictures on my web site if you are interested but be warned the first one is very graphic. The next two show the netting where my head went through and the rest show stitches and healing with the last one picture two months.

Author: JoeO

Powered Paraglider pilot since 2005

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