Primer out, airplane down

Aircraft: Luscombe 8A. Injuries: 1 Fatal. Location: Schaumburg, Ill. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: According to a witness on the ground, the airplane took off and had climbed to about 150 feet above the runway when the engine quit. The airplane stalled, and spun into the ground.

During the post-crash investigation it was discovered that the engine primer was unlocked and pulled out during the takeoff. Although the weather conditions at the time of the accident were conducive to carburetor icing, they were not in the range likely to result in serious carburetor icing.

Examination of the spark plugs indicated a rich mixture condition. The primer position and the condition of the spark plugs indicate that the engine power loss was likely due to an overly rich mixture resulting from excess fuel being pulled through the primer into the engine’s intake system when takeoff power was applied.

Since the purpose of the primer is to assist in starting a cold engine, it is possible the pilot used the primer when starting the engine and did not ensure that it was in and locked before initiating take off.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain airspeed following a loss of engine power during takeoff climb, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall. Contributing to the accident was the loss of engine power due to the unlocked engine primer.

This November 2010 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. NTSB Identification: CEN11LA049

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