The private pilot reported that the accident flight was the Mooney M20E’s first flight after being painted.
After completing a preflight inspection, he started the engine and observed a decrease in power.
He leaned the mixture slightly, and the engine rpm returned to normal idle speed. He reported that during the engine run-up, he noticed that the engine had a delayed response when he increased the throttle, but that the run-up otherwise revealed no anomalies.
The pilot said the takeoff roll took longer than expected, and after lifting off near the end of the runway, the airplane climbed more slowly than normal.
He said that during the initial climb, engine power had decreased to 2,000 rpm. As the airplane reached about 100′ above ground level, the engine was producing about 1,800 rpm and could not maintain a climb.
The pilot elected to continue straight ahead rather than return to the runway at the airport in Corona, California, and the airplane subsequently descended into trees.
A post-accident examination revealed no anomalies with the airframe or engine that would have precluded normal operation. The reason for the partial loss of engine power was not determined.
Probable cause: A partial loss of engine power during initial climb for reasons that could not be determined based on available information. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s decision to conduct the takeoff with observed engine deficiencies.
NTSB Identification: WPR16LA039
This December 2015 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.