This is an excerpt from a report made to the Aviation Safety Reporting System. The narrative is written by the pilot, rather than FAA or NTSB officials. To maintain anonymity, many details, such as aircraft model or airport, are often scrubbed from the reports.
Narrative 1: It was a beautiful morning to fly. My student and I taxied to Runway XX with intentions to do some landing practice (pattern work). We did a run up in the run-up area at Runway XX and Taxiway XX intersection. The run-up was normal, good mag drops, carb heat worked, engine gauges green, vacuum suction at 5hg, and alternator charging.
We pulled up to the runway hold short line and got our takeoff clearance, lined up on the runway and applied full power, checked engine instruments on the takeoff roll, and they were all still in the green. Airspeed came alive at 55 knots and we rotated. Everything seemed normal.
After we reached approximately 500 feet msl I heard a change in the sound of the engine. I then glanced at the tachometer and noticed the rpm had dropped approximately 400 rpm.
When I saw that, I reached for the throttle, pushing it forward thinking the student may have pulled it back a little on accident. I then realized the throttle was all the way forward. I immediately pulled the throttle to idle and the prop completely stopped. That’s when I knew this was real.
I looked in front of me and didn’t see a good place to safely land the Piper PA-28, so I opted for a field to my right on the northeast side of the airport. Everyone was okay and no damage was done to the aircraft.
Narrative 2: During a flight training lesson, we lined up on Runway XX and came to a complete stop. I was on controls, we went full power with brakes, then released brakes and began the takeoff roll. After rotation my instructor instructed me to put in more right rudder, because I was to the left of the runway, and to put the nose down some to get to 80 knots. The plane was at about 70 knots. I was focused on trimming the plane and getting my nose down some to get to the correct climb speed.
Towards the end of the runway I felt the plane drop some. The instructor immediately took over the controls. I am not 100% sure, but I think we were about 500 feet on the altimeter. The instructor pushed on the throttle, I guess to make sure throttle was full.
The prop stopped and the instructor called “Mayday, Mayday, Mayday.” He banked the plane steep towards a field to the right of the runway. He landed the plane in the field right outside the airport fence.
I do not think there was enough runway to land on the runway and I do not think we would have made it above the power lines if the instructor would have tried to land straight ahead.
I honestly do not know what caused the engine failure. During the preflight inspection I did not see anything abnormal. There were 6 quarts of oil, I did not see any oil leaks, the wires looked fine, the belts on the spinner were there and had tension, there were no contaminates when I checked the fuel sumps, both fuel tanks were at the tab, which is 17 gallons per tank. Fuel selector was on the left tank, electric fuel tank was on.
I am not sure how the problem arose or contributing factors.
I think my instructor made a great judgment call and grateful that we landed safely.
Primary Problem: Aircraft