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Airplane Ignition System

A video series.
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An Airplane Ignition System Video Series

We hope you enjoy this video series on how the Airplane Ignition System works in a piston engine aircraft.  This video series was made by Jim and Bryan in the hopes that sharing this information would help make pilots safer while they enjoy operating their own aircraft. Our goal is to provide private pilots with information that allows them to make better and more informed decisions, better understand how their airplane works, and be able to know certain warning signs to be aware of.  Feel free to share this post with others, especially if you know of anyone interested in or studying the subject.  Thanks again and enjoy!


Airplane information:

Link to more on the Bonanza HERE

Part 1:

A look at the tachometer and a graphic engine monitor during run up.  This video contains good information on what these gauges are trying to tell you about how your airplane engine is performing.

Part 2:

In this video segment we are gonna get under the cowling and explore the magnetos, leads, spark plugs and more!

Part 3:

In this segment we are gonna pull the spark plugs out of the engine and examine them more closely.  Watch as I drop a hot spark plug right after being told not to…  yeah, I really hate being on video.

Part 4:

Positioning the piston at top dead center.  Jim makes me put my finger in the spark plug socket and my mistrust joins us on camera.

Part 5:

In this segment we employ the use of a timing indicator (aka: a can on a wire).   This segment covers tips on using an indicator and also how to read it and what it means.  Meanwhile I am still apparently upset about Jim trying to smash my finger in the spark plug socket.

Part 6:

In this section Jim hooks the leads up to the magneto, turns the key to the “on” position to check the equipment for how far off the timing is and then adjust the magnetos.


Part 7:

In this segment we take apart the magnetos and get a look inside.

Part 8:

Servicing the magneto.

Part 9:

The impulse coupling.

Part 10:

Jim explains all about the permanent magnet on the rotor.  Well, sort of….

Part 11:

The path of the spark from origin to ignition.

Part 12:

We are back in the airplane testing the work and seeing if the work has paid off and discussing how to know if it didn’t.

Part 13:

What it looks like when we have a broken ignition wire out to the magneto (P-Lead).

Part 14:

In conclusion, Jim remarks on how incredible the engineering is that goes into the airplane ignition system.

We hope you enjoyed this video series and found the information contained here helpful and fun.  If you would like to get articles like these sent to you via email, then please join our Disciples of Flight Newsletter (below) and get them mailed to you once per month.

Thanks again!


  • […] information: HERE  a video series on airplane ignition […]

  • Drew says:

    Hey Bryan,

    I just want to thank you for this great article and video series. I’m a CFI and striving to be more knowledgeable for myself and for my students. I’ve been searching for an informative video covering the ignition system, and this takes the cake. I’ve seen rough explanations that are good enough for a pilot’s knowledge base, but never anything so comprehensive that shows each working part of the ignition system. You have a great mentor/CFI, and I wish you all the best in your flying!

    • bryan says:

      Thank you! It means a lot that you took the time to let us know that our stuff is helping new aviators join the ranks of the permanently broke, and likewise inspired. If you have any suggestions on additional courses that we could produce that would be helpful PLEASE let me know sow e can get them made!

  • Adam says:

    Awesome series! Thanks for spending the time to make this.

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