Throttle placement in the hand while launching
by Had Robinson
updated November 17, 2019
What is the best way to hold the throttle while launching? Pilots do not want to accidently squeeze the throttle while inflating the glider, getting it into position, or before being ready to go. More importantly, if a pilot happens to slip and move towards the ground during a launch run, the fingers between the throttle housing and the throttle itself will prevent the throttle lever being forced to WOT as the hand hits the ground.
The Miniplane throttle, among all throttles, has the best shape to prevent an accidental WOT. It is also the most comfortable of all throttles for long periods (many hours).
Think about it: The engine going to full power as you hit the ground! It is a terrifying experience that you never want to experience. Yours fingers may get bruised but it is a small price to pay to prevent a runaway engine....
The Miniplane throttle is shaped so pilots can hold it securely in order to prevent accidentally powering up the engine. Take a look at the photo below. The throttle housing is not visible and is just under the thumb. It is also a good idea to have the thumb in position to push the kill switch in case things go bad for some reason. Finding the kill switch when it is critically needed is not easy unless the thumb is ready. The safest movement is to merely clench your hand whereupon the engine dies. ALWAYS BE READY FOR THE UNEXPECTED!
With the middle finger under the throttle, any attempt of other parts of the hand to squeeze the throttle are stopped. As soon as the pilot turns to go (reverse inflation) or proceeds
with a forward inflation, he can slip that middle finger out of position and squeeze the throttle.
(Photo by Had Robinson of pilot Ken Hunkus.)