The FAA aviation safety inspector reported that, during a telephone conversation, the pilot reported that, during the climb, he noticed the engine cylinder heat temperature gauge exceeded 500°F.
He immediately turned back to the departure airport in Orange, Massachusetts. While in the downwind for the landing runway, the engine lost power.
The Van’s RV-8 immediately lost altitude and cleared a tree line in the path to the runway, but then hit terrain hard in a base-to-final flightpath near the runway threshold.
When he got out of the airplane, he observed an engine cowl plug installed on the right side of the engine cowl and removed it.
The right wing and fuselage sustained substantial damage.
The FAA inspector reported that he traveled to the accident, and while on-site, he observed the left cowl plug melted onto the engine cylinders. He added that the right cowl plug was found on the ground near the airplane.
Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to remove the engine cowl plugs during preflight, which resulted in excessive engine cylinder head temperatures during climb and a total loss of engine power.
NTSB Identification: GAA17CA557
This September 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.