This May 2009 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: Fly Baby. Injuries: 1 Serious. Location: Keller, Texas. Aircraft damage: Substantial.
What reportedly happened: The private pilot said the airplane had not been flown in the 90 days before the accident. He conducted a run-up of the experimental airplane’s 65-hp engine prior to departure. The engine produced full power. Shortly after takeoff, the engine started to lose power and the pilot was unable to maintain a normal climb rate. He turned back to the airport, but had to execute a go-around due to another airplane being on the runway. When he applied full power for the go-around, black smoke belched from the exhaust and the engine power continued to decline. The pilot made a forced landing to a field adjacent to the airstrip.
After the accident, it was determined that there was no air filter installed on the engine. The pilot reported that he thought that a nest of mud-dauber wasps had built a nest in the air intake. The nest had vibrated loose and was ingested into the carburetor intake.
Probable cause: A partial loss of engine power due to an obstruction of the air intake, as reported by the pilot. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s insufficient preflight inspection.
For more information: NTSB.Gov