The pilot/owner had not flown the Piper PA 22-150 for several months, but he had recently completed several high-speed taxis in the airplane.
Before the accident flight, he completed a preflight inspection, which included checking the fuel for water. The preflight inspection and engine run-up did not reveal any anomalies.
During takeoff, about 300 feet above ground level and 100 feet beyond the end of the runway in Tompkins, N.Y., the engine lost and regained power about three times.
The pilot applied carburetor heat, but the engine then lost all power. The airplane was too low to return to the airport, so he conducted a forced landing to a road, and the left wing hit a tree.
The pilot added that the airplane departed with 25 gallons of automobile gasoline onboard and that there were no mechanical malfunctions with the airplane before the power loss.
After the accident, on-scene responders confirmed there was adequate fuel onboard the airplane, then the pilot removed the wings and transported the airplane back to his residence where it was examined two days later.
Due to the fuselage damage and disposition of the wreckage, the propeller could not be rotated; however, the engine did not exhibit evidence of catastrophic failure.
The fuel could not be checked for contamination because the gascolator had fractured during impact and the pilot had defueled the airplane and disposed of the fuel before transporting it.
The airplane had been operated about 17 hours since its most recent annual inspection, which was completed about four years before the accident. The plane was about three years overdue for an annual inspection.
Although the temperature and dew point at the time of the accident were conducive to the accumulation of serious icing at glide power, the engine was at takeoff power when the power loss occurred.
The National Transportation Safety Board determined the probable cause as a total loss of engine power for reasons that could not be determined during postaccident examinations and testing.
NTSB Identification: ERA15LA029
This October 2014 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.