The pilot was departing on a cross-country flight in the twin-engine Piper PA-23-160. A witness stated that before takeoff, he spent about 20 minutes in the run-up area at the airport in Port Clinton, Ohio.
As the airplane left the runway, witnesses heard a “popping” noise come from the airplane.
The plane struggled to gain altitude, and one witness stated it appeared to have a problem with the left engine. The airplane turned left and descended.
A review of a security camera video showed that the airplane turned left after takeoff, entered a rapid nose-down descent, and hit terrain, killing the pilot.
A small amount of water was found in the left engine’s carburetor, however firefighter response efforts could not be eliminated as a potential source for the water.
Based on the weather conditions at the time of the accident, the airplane was operating in an area associated with a risk of carburetor ice accumulation at glide and cruise power settings, but not at takeoff power settings.
Witness reports and findings from the investigation are consistent with a loss of control following a loss of left engine power, however, the examination of the airframe and engines did not reveal evidence of any preimpact abnormalities.
The NTSB determined the probable cause as the pilot’s loss of control following a loss of left engine power for reasons that could not be determined.
NTSB Identification: CEN15FA088
This December 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.