According to the student pilot, on a previous flight the same day, while on final approach to the off-airport landing site in Whittier, Alaska, the Cessna 172’s engine lost all power.
He applied carburetor heat and was able to restart the engine and landed uneventfully.
He sumped the fuel system and removed seven vials of water. He then taxied for departure and completed an engine run-up.
The engine briefly ran roughly and then began to smooth out with no anomalies noted.
Just after departure, about 30 feet above ground level, the engine lost all power. The airplane hit trees off the departure end of the airstrip and was destroyed by post-crash fire. The student pilot and his passenger sustained minor injuries.
Due to the remote location of the accident site, the airplane was not recovered or examined after the accident, so the reason for the loss of engine power could not be determined.
Probable cause: A total loss of engine power for reasons that could not be determined based on the available evidence.
This November 2018 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.