Back in the early eighties, a high-school buddy of mine bought a 1939 Luscombe 8A which required hand-propping its 65 HP Continental A-65 motor. I had the "pleasure" of hand-propping it quite a few times whenever we took her up. No big deal, actually. At least I can say I've done it!
But, one day, he called me up seriously depressed. It seems he was by himself at a nearby airport and had difficulty starting the engine. The plane was tied down at all three points with the parking brake set. So far, so good. But, with each of his failed hand-propping attempts, he advanced the throttle a bit more. I'm sure you all now know where this is going..
Long story short, it finally started, and at darned-near full throttle. The rest is legendary around these parts and certainly one for the books.
After forty-some years of "iffy" MX on this once proud bird, the parking brake was an obvious victim of neglect and offered little help that day. In fact, two of the three tie-down anchors helped little either after getting literally pulled free from the turf. That's when the real excitement began.
The one good anchor holding the left wing did an admirable job as long as it could serving as the pivot point of this unoccupied airplane spinning around it with increasing frequency. My friend eventually and wisely gave up the futile chase and ran away with the other few bystanders, some of them in cars after abandoning their desks from an adjacent office abutting the area after viewing the terrifying scene unfold outside the window. But once the last anchor finally gave up (the ghost?), the Luscombe broke free a took out a good portion of the empennage section of a parked crop-duster, causing over five-thousand dollars damage.
Uninsured, thus his depression...
By the way, my friend is now flying a Gulfstream 550 for a famous singer. So every time he resorts to cockiness with me, I remind him of this event.