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I took a passenger on a flight recently in a C42, in which the throttle is placed between the legs. Shortly after take-off (I'm talking 100ft in the air at full throttle), the passenger tucked his legs backwards, taking the throttle with him (despite a pre-flight briefing of where critical controls lay).

In the moment, I reached across, grabbed his legs and pulled them forwards, this resulted in the stick taking itself off to the left and induced a heavy roll. I managed to free the throttle and get full power and level the wings again for a safe climb-out.

As you can imagine, this was a near-miss scenario that almost ended badly. On reflection, I think maybe I should have treated it as an engine failure and landed ahead in a field - but that would risk damage to a club aircraft.

SO my question is, what would the best course of action have been in this situation?

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    $\begingroup$ You managed to find the cause of the engine reving down, fix it, and continue your flight safely. So I'm pretty sure it was the best course of action. If you decided to land the plane safely in the field in front it would have been the best course of action too. You made a quick jugement and it payed off. That's what matter in my opinion... $\endgroup$
    – Quentin H
    Commented Sep 14, 2023 at 12:40
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    $\begingroup$ @Jamiec just to be clear (as I didn't mention it), it didn't. But his 2 legs overpowered my one hand... $\endgroup$
    – Cloud
    Commented Sep 14, 2023 at 13:19
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    $\begingroup$ Jeez I'd totally forgotten the absurd controls arrangement of the C42... $\endgroup$
    – Jpe61
    Commented Sep 14, 2023 at 13:59
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    $\begingroup$ @Jamiec Look up the throttle of the aircraft in question. There are two throttle controls, one between the legs of each occupant. The top portion folds down, but the lower arm of the throttle is still in an area where it can be moved by a leg/foot as described. $\endgroup$
    – Logarr
    Commented Sep 14, 2023 at 22:07
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    $\begingroup$ @Jamiec: I found youtu.be/Bc0qLMXmSdM?si=TwSQyxC17esyMy_N&t=79 which is a cockpit tour of a C42. That point in the video shows how the throttle is linked between sides, between the legs of the two occupants. Having no prior knowledge of the C42 myself, this wasn't clear from the question. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 16, 2023 at 18:18

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You did about as well as you could in the circumstances.

People tend to pull their legs back because they're afraid of interfering with the rudder pedals.

In your briefing, you don't want to freak out the passenger but at the same time you want to impress upon them the gravity of that sort of thing. Emphasize the throttle location and make them be conscious of it in a way that keeps them on edge without terrifying them, and keep your hand on your throttle on climbout. Emphasize they can keep their feet forward as long as they don't rest them right on the pedals themselves.

Repetition is one of the keys to learning and internalizing something, so brief it first, then casually mention in a reassuring way a few times before takeoff.

And, as I said, only other thing to do is keep your hand on your throttle until at a safe altitude in case they do it anyway.

I have to say, the throttle placement on the C-42 is absolutely bizarre, one of those "what the heck were they thinking?" moments. A much better throttle placement with a center stick is the Zenith method of two push/pull throttles, one near the left edge and one near the right edge of the instrument panel, high enough not to get banged by someone's knee when climbing in. If you sit in a Zenith with that arrangement and try it out, you will immediately go "What on earth were they thinking?", regarding the Icarus, yourself.

They probably did it that way to save a few bucks from the cost of two cable assemblies by having one cable down the middle operated by a lever sticking out each side. Where to put the handles? Why not in the worst possible place they can think of?

At minimum, there should be a way to easily remove the right hand throttle for doing passenger rides. I would check if that is possible.

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    $\begingroup$ Your commentary made me laugh John, so thank you :) The throttle stick does (and was) "folded" down, but obviously that didn't stop it being caught. Still, another reason to upgrade to a Eurofox when possible ;) $\endgroup$
    – Cloud
    Commented Sep 14, 2023 at 13:23
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    $\begingroup$ The other problem with the throttle placement is it makes you look like you're in love with yourself, if you get my drift.... or, you like to do a Michael Jackson crotch grab impersonation while you fly. LOL $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Commented Sep 14, 2023 at 13:45
  • $\begingroup$ Not sure what's allowed in aviation, but could some sheets (or wooden boards) be mounted under the seat to make it impossible to put the legs there? $\endgroup$
    – Arsenal
    Commented Sep 15, 2023 at 11:42
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    $\begingroup$ @Arsenal The manufacturer could make a cover that has a slot with only the knob itself protruding through that would make it more difficult. Probably they aren't getting enough complaints from owners and operators to do anything about it. It wouldn't hurt for Cloud to write to the OEM and complain about the design, just to put it on the record. It'll probably take a crash from that sort of incident for anything to be done about it. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Commented Sep 15, 2023 at 12:33
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    $\begingroup$ As a non pilot, I still wonder ... should the passenger be instructed to f-bomb or otherwise announce very clearly if they accidentally interfered with anything or think they did? $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 16, 2023 at 22:41
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Aviate, navigate, communicate.

I'm sure in that moment you had some very spicy communication you wanted to make to that passenger. However, communication is #3 on that list. Only after the airplane is flying like a proper airplane, and aimed in the right direction, do you deal with the passenger.

However, fair chance the passenger was well aware that an upset just happened, and whose fault it was, and that it nearly killed all of you. It's possible no additional communication is required.

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    $\begingroup$ Aviate, navigate, communicate, slap. $\endgroup$
    – Richard
    Commented Sep 17, 2023 at 10:17

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