Loss of engine power plus fence equals a bad combination

This July 2007 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.

Aircraft: Zodiac 601XL.
Location: Levelland, Texas.
Injuries: None.
Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The 287-hour private pilot reported that the homebuilt airplane experienced a loss of engine power during initial takeoff climb. He added that the airport perimeter fence limited the possibility of proceeding straight ahead for a forced landing, so he attempted to return to the runway. The airplane hit the ground in a nose-low attitude and came to rest in an upright position in an open field about 50 yards of the runway. The pilot added that a turn was needed to maneuver the airplane to a suitable landing area. The pilot, who was also a mechanic and the builder of the airplane, was not able to determine the reason for loss of power.

Probable cause: The loss of engine power for undermined reasons. A contributing factor was the lack of suitable terrain for the forced landing.

For more information: NTSB.gov

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