Lighting the turbine....or light my fire


Active Member
Nov 16, 2003
Paxton, Il
Helicycle N360SF
Total Flight Time
I am asked many times the procedure for starting the turbine in my Helicycle. I was asked why I had a turbine while I was speaking to the flying farmers convention last weekend. I answered jokingly,,,,"so no one would steal it". I got a funny look from the crowd, that needed further explaining. I said I bet no one here could go out there and start my turbine....and there are no keys involved. I went on to explain that there is a starting sequence that is like a combination lock. There are a few switches that need to be off......the fuel selector valve has to be right.....the starting sequence is a combination in my answer was basically it would be very hard to start the turbine just at random guessing what to do. Of course that wasnt why I have the turbine.

Just to answer how to light it ....after my pre-flight....first thing I do is flip a switch to check my backup battery that would take over the governor power should I have a catastrophic electrical failure. I check the voltage on my voltmeter. I have diodes isolating the main power coming into this voltmeter as it reads my main buss voltage. The voltage check done...I turn the switch off and turn my main master switch back on the tail on. I then check its voltage on the same meter. I have dual Odyssey 680 amp batteries. These batteries will allow me many more start attempts should I need such...over having just one battery.

The voltage checked...I climb in, stap my seat belts on , and flip my backup battery power back on. I turn the fuel selector valve from red(off) to green (On). The top 5 switches are all flipped up except the middle one which is the main fuel solenoid. Switch #1 alternator..Switch #2 governor Switch #3 main fuel solenoid Switch #4 fuel pump Switch #5 instruments.

There are two buttons on the right side on the front edge of my seat pan. The far outer one is the start/fuel button. This energizes the high voltage starting arcs inside the burner can.....and runs a little fuel to it as well.

The button next to it is the starter button. I hit the start/fuel button first and listen for the lightening bolts inside the burner can....then at the same time hold the starter button down. The turbine starts spooling up and there is a distinctive whoommmmppffff when the burner can ignites. I have my finger on the main fuel solenoid switch....and flip it up when I hear that initial light off. This actually turns the 12 volts to my main fuel solenoid off. I have a normally open main fuel solenoid now....and it takes voltage to shut the fuel off.....and 0 voltage turns the main fuel solenoid on. To maintain order in my easily confused mind, I inverted the middle switch in that row of that when I flip it actually is off...but the main fuel solenoid is on. If this doesnt make sense...reread it about 12 times and it will. This sends high pressure kerosene into the 6 ports inside the burner can....and the hellfire is lit. Now I am holding the start/fuel button...the starter button on until the turbine rpms are 20,000 rpm or so. I am monitoring the ETG for excessive temps, thought this turbine is really hard to hot start. I never have seen higher than 950 degrees....900 is normal operating. But...say I had weak batteries....and it just wasnt spooling up fast enough....thats where you can get a hot start. You have to have volumes of cooling air being pumped throught the turbine to keep the temps under control. If I was getting a high EGT reading....I would shut off the main fuel solenoid and the start/fuel button....and keep pumping air with the starter.

On a typical startup, after 20,000 rpm's are reached....I release the starter button, and continue holding the start fuel button until over 30,000 rpm. I also take a look at my voltmeter. I had my starter stick on one time...and one time only while I was winding it up in my shop, without ever starting it. I had the starter solenoid stick that one time...and the starter stayed in gear. I was imagining if this were to happen on a real turbine start...I "may" not notice that the starter was still engaged...and I could possibly burn up my starter. I am glad that happened that one time because I contemplated what the best indication is of my starter disengaging if I couldnt feel it doing so. It dawned on me that my voltmeter drops WAY down when my starter is engaged and when I release it , it goes back to plus 12 volts. So, I watch for the voltmeter to spring back when I disengage the starter.

If all is normal.....I continue holding the start/fuel button till 30,000 rpm's are reached....then its released, the governor takes over and it settles in around 45,000 rpm. All the pressure gauges...and lights are checked....then the throttle is set to full rpm and the governor settles that in around 61,500 rpm. The turbine is lit....checked out...and the rotors are engaged, and off I go. The whole period of time even done at a leisurely pace is no more than 2 minutes from lightoff to liftoff.....and it can be done in a minute if I were chasing a robber.



and the governor takes over and stabilizes this beast at around 45,000 rpm.


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Last edited:


Aug 20, 2010
North Saanich, BC, Canada
B777 Start

B777 Start

B777 Start:

Rotate start switch.
Turn on fuel switch when oil pressure comes up.
Watch the magic on the displays.

B777 will automatically terminate start if any of a number of things go wrong.

Love flying the B777, but have to admit, your machine puts the "fun" in aviation. Thanks for the detailed and to me, interesting article on getting the fires primed for flight.
Last edited:


Apr 7, 2009
Pittsburg, KS
T-Bird2 / Helicycle
Total Flight Time
Thanks Stan, that will make things go much more smoothly when I try to steal your chopper at Homer's. Ha.

About turning on the alternator, I assumed it would not be turned on until the engine was running so it would not be adding any load during the startup sequence.


brett s

Gold Supporter
May 29, 2004
Ball Ground, GA
none currently
Total Flight Time
1300 helicopter
A T62 APU in a CH-47 starts a bit simpler - battery on, APU switch (3 way toggle) to "run" for 3-5 seconds, hold in "start" for 2 seconds then back to "run".


Junior Member
Aug 2, 2010
Cartersville, GA
Owned Brantly B-2b/Fly Kitfox III/Mini-500b
Total Flight Time
Stan!!! LOL LOL !!!

What is that "Model?"