This December 2008 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: Piper Cherokee. Injuries: None. Location: New Bern, N.C. Aircraft damage: Substantial.
What reportedly happened: Two weeks before the accident the pilot had the airplane refueled with the intent of flying, but did not fly because the battery did not have sufficient power to start the engine. He subsequently used a charging device to restore power to the battery. On the day of the accident, he performed a preflight inspection and did an extended run-up of the engine, noting no problems, so he took off. When the airplane was about 100 feet in the air, the engine completely lost power. The pilot performed a forced landing in a field. The airplane went into a ditch.
Attempts to test run the engine after the accident were unsuccessful, despite the fact that no mechanical anomalies were noted during a visual inspection. A review of aircraft maintenance records revealed that the airplane had flown less than 10 hours since the last annual inspection, which was about 11 months before the accident. In addition, the engine had never been overhauled in the 31 years since it was produced.
Probable cause: A loss of engine power for undetermined reasons.
For more information: NTSB.gov