The pilot and two passengers were conducting a local sightseeing flight when the Cessna 172’s engine “sputtered ever so slightly” and then regained power.
Three to 5 seconds later, engine power dropped to about 700 rpm. The pilot checked the engine controls in an attempt to regain engine power. When power was not restored, he initiated a forced landing to a field near Fulton, Missouri.
During the forced landing, the airplane landed about 3/4 down the length of a field and hit adjacent trees.
During an initial examination, about an ounce of water was found in the gascolator. Continuity was established from the cockpit engine controls to the respective engine components. Fuel was found in the carburetor bowl and in the wing fuel tanks.
A follow-up engine examination and functional test run did not produce any anomalies that would have prevented normal operation and production of rated horsepower. It is likely the water contamination found in the gascolator resulted in the partial loss of engine power.
Probable cause: The partial loss of engine power due to water contamination in the fuel system.
NTSB Identification: CEN17LA241
This June 2017 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.